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Clune Walsh

Clune Joseph Walsh Jr.

Tuesday, October 30th, 1928 - Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
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Clune Joseph Walsh, Jr. (October 30, 1928 – November 20, 2019)

Longtime Grosse Pointe resident Clune Joseph Walsh, Jr., died on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in hospice care at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe. Clune was surrounded by members of his family when he passed. He was 91.

Clune leaves behind his beloved wife of 15 years, Beverly Curtiss; five children: Clune J. Walsh III, E. Bennett Walsh, Ami E. Walsh (John Baird), Sheila Kirk Walsh (Michael Dolan), Brendan Clune Walsh (Kelly), and stepson, Brian Curtiss (Megan). Clune also leaves behind 12 cherished grandchildren and a sister, Marianna W. Sterr (Richard), and many friends. He is pre-deceased by his sister, Helen Walsh Berns (the late Bill); brother, Bernard Kirk Walsh (Beverly B. Byron); and stepdaughter, the late Jill Curtiss.

Clune was born at Harper Hospital in Detroit to Clune Joseph Walsh, a real estate developer, and Helen Kirk Walsh, a housewife and (later) a social worker. Clune lived with his family on Second Boulevard, between Kerby and Ferry, just doors away from the homes of his grandparents and his uncle. At the age of six, Clune’s father moved the family to Grosse Pointe. Clune attended St. Paul Elementary School and University of Detroit Jesuit High School, where he was a talented football and basketball player, until he suffered a career-ending knee injury during a football game his senior year.

Clune went on to attend the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. (his father’s alma mater), where he received a B.S. in economics in 1952. The college yearbook praised Clune’s “inexhaustive spirit,” his “ambitious pursuits,” and his ability to “easily persuade a listener with his characteristic ease and suavity of expression.”

These traits defined him throughout his life. Chief among his “ambitious pursuits” was his success as a life insurance businessman. In 1952, following his graduation and a summer in Europe, he worked as an intern with The Home Life Insurance Company, in New York City. Returning to Detroit, he began selling life insurance in 1955. During his first year, he qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), his profession’s gold standard for excellence. That he remained a qualifying member for the next 62 years is a tribute to his legendary persistence and drive.

Clune’s most treasured professional achievement was when he was elected MDRT president. He presided over the 1981 Annual Meeting at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. The Rockettes performed prior to his keynote speech, the line of dancers parting as he made his entrance on stage. Throughout his long and accomplished career, Clune took great pride and joy in his work. “Reach out there,” he once said in an interview, “and you will create and sustain friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Clune’s personal pursuits were equally ambitious. His lifelong interest in art was sparked while he was a student at Holy Cross and eventually led him to become an avid collector of decoys and, later, American folk art. His 1983 book Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region remains a singular contribution to the field of decoy scholarship. As a member of the Detroit Athletic Club’s Art and Architecture Committee, his expertise and knowledge greatly influenced art acquisitions for the club, where he was a member for 50 years (and where he also loved to play squash, bowl, and dine with friends and family). He also served as President of the Associates of the American Wing, an auxiliary of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Clune’s other eclectic pursuits included sailing (he competed in more than 50 Mackinac races, was a longtime member of Bayview Yacht Club and, most recently, served as Commodore at the Grosse Pointe Club); flying (he held his private pilot’s license for more than 50 years), skiing, scuba diving (which he took up at the age of 76), birding (he visited Canada’s Point Pelee for the warbler migration each May), bowling, reading, watching movies, and traveling the world. He also appreciated and enjoyed the performing arts, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit and the New York City operas, and the Stratford Festival in Ontario.

Clune’s family was very important to him, and he inspired his children with his spirit for life, as each one of them took up many of his passions, both professional and personal. Fifteen years ago, he married Beverly Curtiss. They shared a love of family, faith, friends, travel, and so much more. Clune cherished Beverly for her compassion, kindness, and their shared generosity and enthusiasm for bringing their families together.

His dedication for his profession, higher education, and Holy Cross is reflected in a longtime endowment (called the Clune J. Walsh, Jr. Scholarship) for undergraduates pursing a career in insurance, sales, and marketing at his alma mater.

Baptized and later confirmed in the Catholic Church, Clune was a lifelong member of St. Paul Church in Grosse Pointe. In addition, he attended Mass wherever he was visiting his children or traveling for business and pleasure; most recently, he was a regular congregant at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach during his winter visits to Florida. He was a frequent lector and taught catechism until he was 88.

Clune embraced the rituals, traditions, and values passed along through the generations of his Irish Catholic family. One of his favorite memories was weekly trips for Sunday dinner to his beloved maternal grandparents’ house on 427 Ballard Street in Ypsilanti; he continued this tradition of Sunday meals with his children and later his grandchildren right up to the end of his life. He also spoke often about the love and care he received from his maternal grandparents during a long illness as a child. This appreciation for caregiving and kindness followed Clune throughout his life. In this light, his family are grateful for the many caregivers and medical specialists who cared for him, especially after his diabetes diagnosis and when he began dialysis five years ago and was given a prognosis of having only six months to live. As one friend said, “He had a zest for life and an appetite for more.”

A memorial visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 6, from 4:30pm to 7:00pm at Chas. Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack Ave, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230. A funeral Mass will be held at noon on Saturday, Dec. 7, at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, 157 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Mr. Walsh’s name to the MDRT Foundation, 325 West Touhy Avenue Park Ridge, IL 60068, or the Detroit Institute of Arts (In Memory of Clune J. Walsh, Jr., Associates of the American Wing), 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. The family welcomes memories at
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, December 6th, 2019 | 4:30pm - 7:00pm
    Friday, December 6th, 2019 4:30pm - 7:00pm
    Chas. Verheyden, Inc.
    16300 Mack Avenue
    Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan 48230
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Funeral Mass

    Saturday, December 7th, 2019 | 12:00pm
    Saturday, December 7th, 2019 12:00pm
    St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church
    157 Lakeshore Rd.
    Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Monday, December 9th, 2019 |
    Monday, December 9th, 2019
    Mt. Olivet Cemetery
    17100 Van Dyke Ave
    Detroit, Michigan 48234
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Karl W. Albrecht and Erik Meier and the Sandler Training Team have sent flowers to the family of Clune Joseph Walsh Jr..
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Posted at 06:40pm
I'm Debbie Degalan and I worked for Mr. Walsh 30 years ago. He was a tough boss but i also felt that he was a person that I could also depend on if something went wrong in my life. I will always hold him close in my heart.

Karl W. Albrecht

Posted at 11:16am
Our families have a very long history together and we are thinking of your family at this difficult time. Karl Albrecht and the Albrecht family.
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Karl W. Albrecht purchased flowers for the family of Clune Walsh. Send Flowers


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Posted at 07:59am
A great friend! Gerry and Debby Clixby
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Gracious Lavender Basket was purchased for the family of Clune Walsh. Send Flowers


Erik Meier and the Sandler Training Team

Posted at 01:18pm
Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss... Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
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Erik Meier and the Sandler Training Team purchased flowers for the family of Clune Walsh. Send Flowers


Heartfelt Sympathies Store

Posted at 02:24pm
On behalf of the Jenkins & Co staff please accept our deepest sympathies. May the peace which comes from memories of love shared comfort your family.
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Tender Tribute was purchased for the family of Clune Walsh. Send Flowers


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