Remembering Rudy

Cascades Locks pays respects to Warm Springs leader

January 11, 2006

The late Warren Rudy Clements was remembered in Cascade Locks on Saturday as a “human being” in the truest sense of the word.

Former mayor Rogers Wheatley said Clements had once portrayed a human being as someone who was honest and unselfish. He said the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs government leader had earned that title by always putting the welfare of his people above his own interests.

“The world was a better place because he was here,” said Wheatley, one of 60 people attending the mid-day memorial service.

The Cascade Locks City Council and numerous other Hood River County dignitaries joined tribal representatives in the Pavilion at Port Marine Park. The blustery weather outside seemed to fit the somber occasion where speakers struggled, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep their tears at bay.

In honor of the occasion, the city had flown the United States flag at half-mast to denote mourning. Just below the national standard, the Warm Springs flag had been raised to show respect for Clements.

On Dec. 28, Clements died at the age of 69 in Bend from complications related to diabetes.

At the Jan. 7 ceremony arranged by Cascade Locks port and city officials, Clements was praised for uniting the two communities. In 1999, the economically depressed city partnered with the equally destitute Warm Springs to promote a casino that would create 1,700 new jobs. In addition, the city began showcasing the rich Native American history of the area in its tourism outreach.

“Rudy had an untiring resolve to make the world a better place for all of us to live,” said former mayor Roger Freeborn. “He will be greatly missed but surely not forgotten.”

“When one of us would get angry, he’d hold out his hand and draw us together. Because of that I believe our communities are bonded in a significant way,” said former City Councilor Sandra Kelley, who stated the belief that the casino project had bonded agencies throughout the county.

“During one of our visits to Warm Springs he told us ‘this is peace, this is peace forever,’” said Cascade Locks Port Commissioner Joeinne Caldwell.

Carol York, District 1 County Commissioner, also spoke highly of Clements. She had met the tribal gaming chair when the battle was first heating up over a contested casino proposal on trust land just east of Hood River. The two officials immediately “hit it off” and began working to find common ground. York said the end result of the negotiations they orchestrated was the compromise plan to site the casino in the largely willing community of Cascade Locks.

“The casino in Cascade Locks will be his legacy and it’s up to all of us to strengthen the partnerships and achieve the project that meant so much to him,” said York.

Charlie Tailfeathers, Clements’ brother-in-law, led the opening prayer at the service and described Clements as “a pleasant, gentle and helpful individual.” The Quartz Creek Drummers draped an empty chair with a Native American blanket to show their respect for the deceased musician.

Tailfeathers said that in addition to teaching youth the meaning behind the ancient tribal songs, Clements held numerous distinguished posts on and off the reservation in a quest to improve the quality of life for his people.

“One of his biggest passions was to please and make other people happy. He was a very culturally spiritual person and it was something he carried on very strongly in our family,” said Margie Tuckta, Clements’ niece.

She gave an emotional thank you to Cascade Locks officials for organizing the memorial service. Other Warm Springs members who attended included Anna Clements, Rudy’s widow, Chief Delvis Heath, Louie Pitt, director of government affairs, and Tribal Councilors Bernice Mitchell and Reuben Henry.

“Our way of life is that we share everything because we are only on this earth for a short time,” said Heath. “He understood that and had figured out what it takes to be happy.”

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