Gresham resident Clair Ernest Pense celebrated his 80th birthday Saturday, Jan. 12, with a lunch and celebration at the American Legion Hall Post No. 150. His great-grandchildren sang a patriotic song, his grandson played a harmonica, his granddaughter showed a PowerPoint presentation, his son and daughter talked about their gratitude and appreciation for him and a cake with an American flag design was served.
Clair was born Dec. 21, 1927, in Norris, S.D., to Charles and Grace (Pinkham) Pense. He moved back and forth between South Dakota and Oregon during his childhood, finally settling in Portland in 1943. He graduated from Gresham High School in 1945 and from Multnomah College.
During World War II, he worked in the shipyards after school. He worked in the Survey Department and held the office of Multnomah County Land Surveyor. He later worked in private practice as a land surveyor until his retirement in 1997.
Clair married Violet Naomi Pence on Feb. 14, 1951, in Stevenson, Wash.
He was a founder and past president of the Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon, a director of the Convention of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping, a president of the Engineering Architect Council of Oregon, a school board member for the Centennial School District and a board member for Mt. Hood Community College. He also served in the Korean War as a submariner.
Clair's hobbies include traveling, spending time with his family and friends, gardening, walking the Springwater Trail and collecting litter, and staying involved with what is happening in Gresham.
Clair's wife died in 2006.
He has one son, Stanley Clair of Craig, Colo.; two daughters, Virginia Rae Pearce of Concord, Calif., and Cynthia June Reynolds of Gresham; 17 grandchildren; and 21 great-grandchildren.
When asked about the secret of his long life, he attributed it to his friendliness, his generosity, his great attitude toward life, his sense of humor and lots of vegetables. He and his wife also enjoyed walking the Springwater Trail and collecting litter, which he now does with his great-grandson, Korbin.