Obituary Notices

Obituary: Cletus John Whelan, 92, Riverman, Boat Namesake

Cletus J. Whelan
Cletus J. Whelan

Cletus J. Whelan, 92, of Columbia, Illinois, left this world for his next journey surrounded by family on October 29, 2023. He is preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Patricia Ann (Heizer). He is survived by four children; Michael (Janice) Whelan, James (Vicki) Whelan, Jan (Bill) Walsh and Gene (Pam) Whelan. He leaves behind thirteen grandchildren, and 20 great grandchildren.

A true River Man, Cletus held many jobs throughout his 92yrs, rising through the ranks to become a leader in the construction industry. After 42 years of service, in 1992 he retired as President of Tower Rock Stone, Ste. Genevieve, Mo. and Vice President of Luhr Brothers Construction Company, Columbia, IL. During his employment with Luhr Brothers he was a key member of the executive team overseeing the company’s projects on the J. Bennett Johnson Waterway, The Kaskaskia Waterway, Mel Price Locks and Dam and channel improvements on the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers. One of his fondest assignments was his involvement in the construction and management of the companies 7,200 HP class vessels still operating today.

He was fortunate to have two vessels named in his honor, the MV Mister C.J. a 2,800 HP in 1982 and the MV Cletus, a 3,000 HP retractable in 1992. Both vessels were key to accomplishing several of the company’s river projects.

Cletus was a past board member of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and received the US Army Corps of Engineers highest civilian honor for service to the country.

Cletus was known for his congenial personality. He greeted everyone he met with a handshake and a warm smile. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.