Clarence Opiela


Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.  It is with great sadness that the family of Clarence Opiela announces his passing.  

Clarence Edmund Opiela was born Dec. 4, 1946, at his family’s home in Karnes City, Texas. He was the first of five children born to Domin Opiela and Emma Waclawczyk Opiela of Polish descent. Clarence went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Dec. 7, 2020, with his loving family at his side.

Clarence was raised in both Karnes City and Luling, Texas. He learned the value of a dollar at an early age, working at Hartzog’s Grocery and at a local gas station as an attendant. After graduating from Luling High School, Clarence went on to join the United States Army Reserves where he proudly served his country before retiring with honors.  He began a career in Austin working as an ironworker, followed by a stint as an insurance adjuster.

Clarence met the love of his life, Debbie Downey, in 1969. The two were wed in 1970.  To this union as husband and wife they have two children, Dandy Opiela and Jace Opiela.

A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. It is the most important word in the world to that person. Jace’s name represents both his maternal grandfather (Joseph Adam) and his father (Clarence Edmund). Jace will forever treasure this gift!

Clarence and Debbie made Gonzales their home in 1978. It was then that he found his true passion and calling, working for the Gonzales Independent School District (1980-2016) where he had daily contact with the youth in his community as a building trades and special education teacher. He loved his students very much. He also founded Kel-Co Construction in 1985 with business partner, Mark Kelly, which is still active today.

He was a man of faith and donated countless hours of his time making repairs or improvements as he was able to at many local churches.

Clarence believed in welcoming everyone like family, and he cherished time spent with his immediate family just as he did with his extended family.

He loved traveling to weddings and family reunions where he visited with his aunts, uncles, and cousins. Together Debbie and Clarence hosted many Halloween parties, Cajun boils, and Christmas gatherings. Although he admittedly wasn’t a pit master, he tried. Clarence enjoyed having his family join them on Sundays for his famous pot roast, a bowl of stew, bean soup, or chicken and dumplings. Providing for his family was his number one priority.

Clarence had a passion for classic cars, and although he could fix almost anything, he was always quick to point out that he was no mechanic. Countless, wonderful memories were made spending time with his family and close friends. He never knew a stranger.

Clarence loved to complain about their weekend trips to Rockport. While he likely cherished these trips, he would rather his time be spent with Debbie at their home.

However, he never feared a quick classic car cruise to Biloxi, Mississippi as long as his son, Jace, was near a phone and had a trailer ready to go should he break down!

Clarence enjoyed watching an old western on the television almost as much as he eagerly anticipated decorating his home for the Christmas season. He, alongside his daughter Dandy, put in countless hours decorating their home for Christmas for many years and had several awards to show for it!

Anyone who knew Clarence knows of his wholehearted commitment to the Gonzales Car Club, the Oil City A's (Luling), the Gonzales GEDC, the Gonzales City Council, the American Legion Post 40, the Come and Take It Committee, and the Gonzales Elks Lodge #2413. He found joy in being a host for the Bop-N-Bash Celebration and was identified as one of the longest active members of this organization. He rocked the crowd when he would perform with Johnny Davis – The Righteous Brothers’ hits Unchained Melody and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.

Clarence enjoyed assisting with meals for the First Baptist Church on Wednesday evenings.

He was born into the Catholic Church and was active with the First Baptist Church of Gonzales. He loved lending a hand and supporting anything Gonzales County had to offer.

Clarence’s legacy will be carried on by his wife of 50 years: Debbie Opiela of Gonzales; son: Jace Opiela (Shelly) of Gonzales; daughter: Dandy Opiela (Steven Rainosek) of Shiner; granddaughters: Delaney Rainosek of College Station, and Riley Rainosek of Shiner; brothers: Leroy Opiela (Elva) of Buda, and Alton Opiela (Connie) of Luling; sisters: Patricia Williams (Terry) of Seguin, and Rita Evans of Bastrop. He also leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews as well as special family friends: Elaine Kocian, Glenna Winegeart, and Sally Glass. 

There is comfort in knowing Clarence was greeted at the pearly gates by his parents, his grandparents, and cherished friends, John Paul Jones and Otto Kocian.

The family would like to give a special thank you to everyone who has offered their thoughts and prayers. Your kind expression during this time of great sorrow is deeply appreciated. We know our pain will decrease and what will remain will always be. Love all whom you hold dear. Precious is the time you share.  Do not wait for tomorrow for tomorrow may not be. Also, a special thank you to the medical staff at St. David’s Austin.

In lieu of flowers, consideration of contributions to Joy Bells, the First Baptist Church of Gonzales, or to a charity of one's choosing, is suggested.

Visitation will be held 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 at Seydler-Hill Funeral Home. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 at the First Baptist Church in Gonzales.

Pallbearers include: Steven Rainosek, Mark Kelley, Joseph Downey, Larry Wehde, Michael Vyvjala and Jeff Beimer. Honorary pallbearers are Bubba Hermann, Domingo Gonzales, Gary Schoeder, Erwin Ckodre, Dr. David Garza and Benny Lewis.

As they say in Poland, “zyj petnia zycia” (live life to the fullest).

Due to current CDC, State and local mandates, protective measures regarding social distancing, limited attendance capacity, and use of personal protective masks will be required for the visitation, church service and graveside burial rite. Those remotely symptomatic of COVID-19 are politely asked not to attend. Services are under the care and direction of Seydler-Hill Funeral Home.

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