site image
US Army


Clarence Elroy Budke

April 5, 1927 ~ October 24, 2018 (age 91)

BUDKE, Clarence Elroy, "Bud” or “Pastor” to many, age 91, formerly of Waynesville, NC passed away on Wednesday, October 24, 2018. 

Clarence was born on a farm near Wheaton, Minnesota on April 5, 1927 to the late Clara and Herman Budke.  He was the sibling to four elder brothers, all of whom preceded him in death.  He graduated from Morris Ag School in 1944 and joined the US Army, serving from 1944-1946 in the 77th Infantry and 11th Airborne Divisions in the Pacific Theatre.  Following military service, Clarence attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, graduating in 1951 with a B.A. in Biology. 

In 1951 he traveled to Kudat, British North Borneo, where until 1953 he was Headmaster of the Secondary School.  There he married Ruth Larson, his college sweetheart and wife of 66 years.  He always enjoyed telling of how their life together began with a crocodile hunt on their honeymoon.  After transfer to Tanganyika, East Africa, he was the Educational Secretary for the primary school system and then Headmaster of Ilboru Secondary School in Arusha.

In 1956 he and Ruth returned to the United States, where he attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois.  After ordination in 1960, he began his pastoral service at St. Johns’ Lutheran Church in Rushmore, Minnesota.  In 1962 he and Ruth returned to the mission field, this time in the Western Highlands District of Papua, New Guinea, where Clarence served as the Area Missionary for Muritaka/Lyamim and Chairman of the Mission Medical Program Committee.  In 1967 he came back to St. Paul, Minn. where he was the Clinical Pastoral Education Chaplain of Minnesota Hospital.  At the end of that year, he returned to New Guinea to be the Chaplain, Instructor, and later Headmaster of the Pausa Secondary School in Wapenamanda.  In 1971 he came home to be the Chaplain for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota at Baptist Hospital, St. Paul and the University of Minnesota Hospital. 

In 1972 he accepted a call as Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Preston, Maryland, where he also served for several years as the Circuit Counselor (advisor for sister parishes/pastors) on the Eastern shore of Maryland.  In 1978 he accepted a call as Pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Waynesville, NC, where he remained until retiring in 1992.

During this time and well into retirement Clarence’s outreach included many other organizations, including Haywood Christian Ministries, Civil Air Patrol, and the planned Fines Creek Youth Retreat. He cherished the time spent from 1982 – 1997 working as the Youth Servant Event Outreach Coordinator.  These retreats began and continue to work collaboratively with churches from other parts of the country to bring youth to Appalachia for service projects to help those in need.  He also greatly appreciated his summer trips to China teaching English, which he completed seven times through 2000.

Clarence had a way and compassion for those in need and enjoyed his service in all capacities, continuing chaplain visits and interim pastor duties well into his eighties and sharing many hugs on Sundays as parishioners left service.  He had a love for telling stories, and being a good German he had an endless supply of Sven and Ole jokes poking at Scandinavians.  He consistently voiced his appreciation of God’s provision of beauty all over the world, in nature, people, and animals (Clarence loved dogs!) which he often captured in his photography.     

He is survived by his wife Ruth, daughter, Susan Ward and son-in-law Tony Moore; daughter Beth Lyle and son-in-law Hal; son Tim Budke and daughter-in-law Rachel; three grandsons, Braden Ward, Nathan Ward and Charles Lyle; four granddaughters, Sarah Ward, Mariah Moore, Lily Budke and Maya Budke; three great-grandchildren, Kaden and Zoey Ward and Oakleigh Moore; and numerous nieces and nephews in addition to friends whom he all loved dearly. 

Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, November 2, 2018 at the North Carolina Veteran’s Cemetery in Black Mountain, 962 Old US Highway 70, Black Mountain, NC with Rev. Michael McFarland and Rev. Jim Roseman officiating. The family would like to express our thanks for the wonderful help and care given. If desired and in lieu of flowers, friends may make memorial contributions to the following: 

Lutheran World Relief – P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21297-1061 or at  When going to that page, in the top right corner is a red box that says donate.  Select that box.  In the top of the second page is a box that says, “Dedicate my gift in honor or memory of someone else”.  Select that box.  Lutheran World Relief’s work finds long-term, sustainable solutions to poverty.


© 2019 Asheville Mortuary Services. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS