Thirty Who Dared to Serve Gratiot County in the Great War, Part II. Clifford Kime: “The First Man on Breckenridge’s List”


Above: The markers and resting place of Clifford R. Kime in Breckenridge’s Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Note: This is the second part of thirty articles that will run in 2018 to commemorate the lives of thirty Gratiot County men who died serving their county, state and nation during The Great War. These thirty men are named on the Gratiot County All Wars Memorial in Ithaca. Each article will run on the centennial anniversary of that man’s death.

         Clifford  Kime was the second Gratiot County man, and first Navy man, to die in the service of the United States during the Great War. News of Kime’s death reached Breckenridge just a few days after his death on February 19, 1918 at Carney Hospital in South Boston, Massachusetts.

        Clifford Ray Kime was born on March 20, 1895 to Jacob and Ida Kime in the Midland County town of Porter.  He was the middle of three , sons. The Kime family moved to Breckenridge in 1908 and Clifford graduated with the Breckenridge Class of 1913. At some point  prior to the war Kime’s father went to work for the Republic Truck Company in Alma.  Kime served the next four years as a druggist clerk in Breckenridge and Detroit. He then took an examination to become a registered druggist through Ferris Institute. During the summer of 1917, Kime worked in Houghton, Michigan, but when the call for military service came his name was the first name on Breckenridge’s registration list. Clifford Kime  willingly answered that call.

      Kime initially enlisted as a volunteer in the Navy’s medical corps. He left for the United States Naval Training Station at Newport, Rhode Island  on September 13, 1917.  His family and friends saw him at Christmas when he came home on a two week furlough. What was Clifford Kime’s biggest regret at that time? Only that he claimed that he would  have enlisted as soon as war had been declared  that spring. Kime believed that all young men in Gratiot County should join up to defend what was right and to fight Kaiserism.

         Shortly afterward, he transferred to the Radio Service and in January 1918 he took course work at Harvard University.   During this time he contracted pneumonia and died after a three day illness. In remembering Clifford Kime, it was written in a local newspaper that “Clifford was always of a cheerful disposition, energetic, possessing a winning frankness that guaranteed him an ever increasing number of friends wherever he went.” He also had been a member of the Breckenridge Masonic Lodge and the Men’s Bible Class of the Methodist Sunday School.

        After his body was returned to Breckenridge, services were held before a large crowd at the Methodist Church. The text from the pastor on that day that typified Kime’s service was taken from John 18:37. It read, “To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world.” Among the family members he left behind was his niece and namesake, Virginia Clifford Kime. After the funeral, Clifford Ray Kime’s body was laid to rest in Breckenridge’s Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Copyright 2018 James M Goodspeed

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