By Jennifer Carrera Turner
This article is in remembrance of my great uncle Clarence J. Tibado. He was one of seven children born in Yankton, South Dakota in 1920. His family moved to Florida a few years later and settled in Lake Wales (where my mother was born).
My grandmother, Mary (Tibado) Underhill was one of his sisters. My grandmother is also one of the people in my life who really showed me how important Jesus is. Her family grew up worshipping in the Catholic Church.
That was definitely something that impacted my great uncle’s paintings and his strength that carried him through WWII.
It was many years ago and only a few times that I had met my great uncle, Clarence Tibado. My mother and her 10 brothers and sisters called him “Uncle Buddy” and that’s really the name I called him too. When I was very young I was told that his paintings hung in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. and that he lived for a time in a 27 room Spanish-Moroccan castle in Lake Wales, FL. My grandmother absolutely adored her brother. She was so proud of him and I had no idea how incredible his life story was until I was much older.
I know now that besides what a hugely talented artist he was but also a Navy Veteran with 13 bronze stars. He served on the U.S.S. Pensacola CA24 in the Pacific. He was wounded during the battle of Iwo Jima and honorably discharged in 1945 as a Radarman 3rd Class.
In 1954, he fell in love and married a widow named, Josephine Yarnell, a woman locally known in Lake Wales, FL as a “Princess” in that she resided in a Florida Mediterranean-Style castle named for her “La Casa de Josefina”. She was a woman of high society and also someone who cared for the needy, sacrificing a lot to make sure that people who were impoverished may have a means to survive. The marriage to Clarence Tibado was one centered upon a shared love of the arts. Josephine and her late husband (Irwin A. Yarnell) had the mansion built in the 1920’s for Josephine by a Spanish yogi named Mr. DeSoto. The fireplace in the home was salvaged from a Spanish castle, it was furnished with European antique furniture, all of the doors opened to a breezeway in the courtyard with a fountain in the center, every known species of palm tree flourished and amidst that grew surrounding botanical gardens. My great uncle Clarence and Josephine transformed this beautiful majestic estate into an art museum.
In 1957, Clarence Tibado donated many of his war time paintings to the Smithsonian Museum. He created those paintings while he was serving aboard the U.S.S. Pensacola.
In 1967, Josephine passed away from natural causes. “La Casa de Josephina” was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
In the years after Josephine passed away, Clarence Tibado continued his fine arts painting and had many gallery receptions. He passed away on December 16, 2014, age 94 in Winter Haven, FL.
The photo above is a lithograph given to my mother by her uncle Clarence Tibado. It is titled “The Divine Command”. The detail incredible. The images and what they portray, mesmerizing.