Let’s talk Clovis: Cliff and Mary Steward, a couple that loved Clovis

Cliff and Mary Steward’s wedding photo from January 25, 1946 (Photo courtesy of the Clovis Museum).

Cliff and Mary Rosano Steward shared the love they had for each other after 64 years of marriage with Clovis, the city they loved. The David Rosano family migrated from Italy in early 1900s. In 1906, they purchased a large home on 60 acres of land at the intersection of Peach and Shaw. They planted a grape vineyard and the entire family worked long hours to make their farm successful.

Mary was born on June 8, 1924 at the Clovis Sanitarium in Old Town Clovis. She graduated from Clovis High School in 1943. During that era, numerous Clovis packing sheds provided additional income for families during seasonal harvests.

In 1945, pretty Mary was working as a packer at the Lamanuzzi and Pantaleo packing shed. She was determined to meet the handsome truck driver, Cliff Steward, who arrived each day to pick up the fruit shipment. The couple began to date.

Cliff was born in Norman, Okla. in 1927. His family arrived here in 1937. He left Clovis High School in 1945 to join the Army. Cliff and Mary were married in January 1946 when he returned on leave.

While Cliff served in Japan, Mary continued to work and save money for their first home at 219 9th Street. The couple later moved to 836 Oxford where they raised their children Doylene, Shirley and Duane.

Cliff was a master carpenter. He worked for Western Homes prior to joining the Clovis Unified School District as carpenter. He became supervisor of service plant operations at CSU, Fresno in 1969. He would retire from there in 1989.

He was a dedicated community servant. He served on the Clovis Police reserve (1954-1957) and received their honorary member award in 1954 and their life member award in 1974. When the police department created a mounted patrol, he rebuilt corrals at the Clovis rodeo grounds for their use.   

Cliff was involved with the Clovis Boys League from 1958-1976. In addition to helping maintain the baseball diamond, he built a new concession stand and a booth for the announcer. Mary and their girls would operate the concession stand. In 1964, Cliff received the Rex Phebus Award for his outstanding contribution to youth.

He joined the Clovis Rodeo Association in 1966 and served on their board of directors for 25 years, serving as president in 1981 and 1982. He helped build a new rodeo building, restrooms and rodeo stands. Their five grandchildren would ride with “Papa” while he disked the arena prior to the opening of the rodeo.

Mary was a stay at home Mom until their children were raised. In 1965, she took a part time job with Theta Chi Fraternity at CSU, Fresno. She was their cook and house mom. The members quickly grew to love and respect her, even when she employed required disciplinary actions. She retired in 1985, but continued to receive thanks and praise from the many young men she served.

She was always there for her family. Her projects included a garage full of Girl Scout cookies and providing homemade cookies as room mother.

Mary coordinated her 1943 class reunions and she became passionately engaged in “save the class stones” at Clovis High School when they were in jeopardy of being displaced. In 1985, she joined the Clovis Hospital Guild and was recognized as the “oldest active member of the guild” in 1997.

In 1997, Mary and Cliff were inducted into the Clovis Chamber Hall of Fame. Cliff served as grand marshal of the Clovis Rodeo in 1999.

They are an important part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.