Wayne Clements: Saline's Hands On Historian

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 01/01/2016 - 19:17

(Fellow Saline historian Agnes Dikeman originally wrote a version of this article for the Saline Area Historical Society's newsletter. Wayne Clements died Dec. 31, 2015, at the age of 84.)

In 1987, Wayne Clements saw to it that the Saline Area Historical Society became an ongoing and continuous non-profit organization. Before that, there were years of inactivity.  Under Wayne’s leadership, the society was restructured when a core group began working “to preserve our past for the future”.

This was the essence of Wayne’s work. He truly believed that history was all about people, their stories and their past. Now in the 28th year of our historical society, Wayne Clements resigned from active involvement at the November board meeting.  He asked to be known as Director Emeritus. It was with great sadness the Board accepted his resignation; but now with even greater sadness, we resign ourselves to knowing he died on December 31 and has gone to his eternal reward.

Wayne Clements was responsible more than anyone else for our museums as they stand today. Under his leadership as President of the Board for 20 years, he saw to it that the Depot Museum rose from the ashes of a long vacant building, arranged for the acquisition and restoration of the livery barn from the former Risdon property on Michigan Avenue and Lewis Street, paid out of pocket for a large portion of the caboose and windmill and then donated them to the City.  The depot was dedicated July 4, 1995 and was accepted on the National Register.

In 1998, he worked actively with the City of Saline to acquire the Rentschler Farm buildings. As with the depot, under his leadership, the site became a local history icon celebrating all the farmers of the Saline area.  Although owned by the City, the farm and the depot museums are operated by historical society volunteers. The farm museum was dedicated May 1999 and is also on the National Register.

There has never been a year during Wayne Clements' presidency or later, as a Director on the Board, that he didn't have a goal to preserve this or that building on museum property, as well as elsewhere, and to educate people concerning historic buildings. To that end, he initiated a program of signage that identifies historic points of interest in the Downtown Saline area.

Additionally, Wayne Clements worked tirelessly to preserve local history, including that in townships surrounding Saline. After the year 2000, Wayne was actively involved in restoring the old Lodi Twp. Hall and turning it into a Local History Museum. There is no end to the number of projects he worked on, preserving the past for the future.

Until his passing, each of us looked forward to Wayne’s continued counsel. Now we remember him with great fondness.


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