A third-generation Idahoan born on April 27, 1934, Clayne was the only child of Otis Chaumell of Picabo and Helen (Clark) Chaumell of Hill City. Clayne was raised on the Suzy Q Ranch, near Picabo, and grew up branding and moving cattle, repairing fences, and bailing and cutting hay. There was also great fun in his younger years, from swimming and fishing in the Silver Creek with his friend, Warren Nissan, to riding his favorite horse, Nugget, to skiing Sun Valley on wooden skis before it was “ruined” by developers.
Clayne graduated from Carey High School, worked that summer as a railroad gandy dancer and then enrolled at the University of Idaho where he pledged as a Delt (Delta Tau Delta). Of Clayne’s short-lived college career, a family friend once said, “I don’t think anybody drank more or studied less than Clayne Chaumell.” If you knew Clayne, you will know how funny this is to read!
Realizing college was not for him, Clayne enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1957 shipping out to Sheppard Air Force Base for basic training, then to Lowry in Colorado Springs for mechanic school, and eventually for duty at California’s Travis Air Force Base. He spoke of his time in the Air Force as mostly just “having fun.”
He never considered himself a Veteran because he never saw combat or deployed overseas. Instead, he shared stories about taking rides in Gooney Birds a.k.a. B-3s (once seated on a milk crate as the pilots made a beer-run!) and reminiscing about going to California’s storied nightclubs during that state’s Golden Age of the 1950’s.
Clayne was honorably discharged with a Good Conduct Medal in 1960 and returned to Idaho where he attended another aircraft mechanic school in Pocatello and took a job as an aircraft mechanic at Sparks Air. Shortly thereafter, he met his one-and-only love, Ella Dean Baldwin (Cardin). He fell in love with the widow and her two small boys, David and Ron, and spent as much time courting them as he did his future wife! The couple married in 1966 inside Reno’s Little White Chapel and the family settled into a home on Boise’s Bench. Two more children soon followed, another son, Thayne, and daughter, Darce.
Clayne’s life-long career as an aircraft mechanic saw him working at Boise Air Service for many years; he later started his own aircraft engine shop, The Flying Machine, located at the Caldwell Airport. He finished out his working years at Ron Yanke’s airplane service. Yanke was a man and business owner that Clayne respected and admired until his last days, often saying, “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”
After retiring from Yanke at 67 years of age, Clayne soon began rebuilding his 1931 Model A Ford pickup, later driving it from Boise to the Ford Motor Museum in Dearborn, MI a round-trip journey of nearly 4,000 miles that he took with his friend and fellow Model A enthusiast, Kim Wiggins. This adventure was later re-told by Boise writer, Tim Woodward, in his weekly column, accompanied by a photo that Clayne forever displayed in his home.
In his later years, Clayne tinkered in his garage on (what was by now) two fully rebuilt “A’s”, as he called them, the ’31 pickup and his original A, a 1929 Ford Coupe. Family friend Deb Randolph joined him on more than one occasion, times he truly enjoyed. He was an active member of his Model A Club, regularly attending meetings and taking club road trips with his wife.
Clayne was an avid reader his entire life. Whether it was his daily Wall Street Journal, a book about history, (especially American history), or Hemmings Motor News, he typically had a book nearby and (the last several years) his beloved cats, Jezebel and Lucy, in his lap.
He took pleasure in staying active during retirement, volunteering at both Whitney Elementary School and Whitney United Methodist Church for many years, doing most of the cooking at home, and walking a mile a day well into his 80’s. The last few years saw him still sharp-as-a-tack, striking up conversations with neighbors and strangers alike, spreading his kindness everywhere he went from Walt at the corner barbershop, to the staffs at the Costco pharmacy and Vista Albertsons.
At no point, however, was anything more important, more dear to him, than the love and care of his family, most especially, his wife of 55 years, Ella Dean, on whom he believed the sun both rose and set. He was so proud of her, so proud that she was his wife, and doted on her and worried about her until the very end.
Clayne did more than believe “We are our brother’s keeper.” He lived it; his actions showed it, and every individual who met him was the recipient of it. He had a spirit of kindness that enveloped everything in his presence. Animals adored him as much as people did, clearly sensing his gentle soul. His dear friend, Gary Malmen, said it best, “He was always good. His whole life he was good.”
Clayne is survived by his wife, Ella Dean, three sons David (Jeanette) Baldwin of Caldwell, Ron (Arousha) Baldwin of Vancouver, WA and Thayne Chaumell of Evansville, IN, and one daughter, Darce (Jeff) Johnson of Boise, as well as 11 grandchildren.
Thank you to the St. Al’s ICU and ICC staff and to Dr. Jeff Heslop for giving us five extra weeks of Dad. Thank you also to the entire staff of Cascadia Boise. What was supposed to be a short stop on his way home, ended-up being where his final moments on earth were spent– but you took good care of him, made him smile, got him motivated for physical therapy, and treated him with kindness and respect.
Finally, thank you to his treasured family and friends Gary and Linda Malmen, Kim Wiggins, Deb Randolph, John and Barbara Dorman, Ruthie Carter, Jolene Anderson, Kenneth Worthington, Mike Dale, and the “best neighbor a guy ever had,” Weston. Each of you gave Dad joy and no one deserved joy more than him.
Viewing is Monday, March 14, 2022 from 5 PM – 7 PM at Bowman Funeral Parlor, 10254 W Carlton Bay Dr, Boise. Services are graveside the following day, Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at 10 AM at Dry Creek Cemetery, 9600 Hill Rd, Boise. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Meals-On-Wheels, the Idaho Food Bank, or Idaho Public Television, all three are charities that Clayne supported.