Longtime Fort Dodge Newspaper Columnist Dies at 103


Newspaper columnist Clarence A. “Skip” Westphal has died at age 103 after a battle with pneumonia.

Westphal’s column, “True Tales to Live By,” appeared in The Messenger for more than 35 years.

“He had done such a variety of things in his life, that it was an easy thing to do — tell tales,” said his wife, Marion Westphal.

Westphal was born June 16, 1904, in rural Pocahontas County. He graduated from Western Union College in Le Mars and then earned his master’s in theology at Boston College.

Westphal served as a medic during World War II, but was discharged when he turned 40. He joined the Red Cross and worked as a field director in Germany for another two years.

After the war, Westphal joined the Ringling Bros. circus as a horseman. He also had stints as a lumberjack and a sailor, working on a sardine ship out of Maine.

He traveled the world extensively and, in 1948, interviewed Dr. Albert Schweitzer during his second trip to Africa.

“In my estimation he was more multitalented and multitraveled than any other person I ever met,” said Walt Stevens, Messenger editor emeritus.

Westphal died Feb. 26 at Stewart Memorial Hospital in Lake City. Survivors include his wife, Marion; and daughters Kim Seitz of Mesa, Ariz., and Sunia Mottl of Oakdale, Minn.

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