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Scott Lukas "Luke" Clinger

1992 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Scott Lukas "Luke" Clinger

Cascade - Scott Lukas "LUKE" Clinger, 27 got his angel wings on June 4, 2019. He passed away unexpectedly in the arms of his mama and daddy. Luke fought a long, courageous battle with a traumatic brain injury he received in a car accident. Luke was given a 2% chance to survive that accident, but being the fighter he was he survived 11 years, 9 months more.

Luke was born in Great Falls, MT January 20, 1992 to Scott and Sherri Clinger of Cascade, MT. He came into this world a fighter, as his first week was spent in the N-ICU. It was evident early on that Luke was a very intelligent boy. At 18 months old he disconnected, switched around and reconnected every phone line in our house. Luke fell in love with Thomas the Tank Engine at the age of 3, setting off a love of trains. He would spend hours building towns, cities and railroads with his Thomas set, Legos, erector set and building blocks - and it was the end of the world every time he had to pick it up and put it all away. He just couldn't understand why his roads and railways couldn't run thru the whole house indefinitely.

Then along came Luke's lifelong best friend - a little sister in November, 1994. Luke loved his sister, Ashton before she was even born. He would sit next to his mama and read stories, showing the pictures and details of each page to her belly. When Ashton was born he referred to her as "his baby." He was very protective of her as well - at a school basketball game he saw a woman with a similar pink blanket and he lost his mind. He started screaming, "she's got my baby!" Luke and Ashton became the very best of friends - they did everything together. We can honestly say, these two never fought. The worst they would do to each other is sneak around corners trying to scare the other. Screams of horror could be heard constantly around the house. This little game was taught to them by their daddy and he picked up where Luke left off.

At a very young age, Luke had an amazing eye for detail. He could walk into a room and walk out and describe perfectly everything he saw in the room and on the walls. Luke could also draw in great detail - his best drawings being portraits of friends and family. He also had an amazing, creative mind. He loved to create gadgets and build inventions. He has notebooks full of ideas and drawings of things he wanted to create or build. Luke found his passion when in 9th grade he was invited to join the CMR High School Robotics team. The team went on to win the state competition and qualified for nationals. Luke was devastated when he learned they couldn't go due to a lack of funds for food and travel. As a sophomore, Luke had been made captain of the robotics team, the RoboRustlers. This earned him the nickname "GUDA" - short for Gudadea (because he always had "good ideas").

Another of Luke's passions was science and history. The only channels he watched on TV were the History and Discovery channels. One of Luke's greatest role models was Thomas Jefferson because he was a thinker and an inventor. Luke was blessed to have the opportunity to go to Washington, DC. He visited the monuments, museums, Monticello and the Smithsonian Institute (which was by far the greatest experience of his life). He was so engrossed in the exhibits that he forgot to take a single picture. He was very mad at himself for that. When he got home it took a week of 3 hour dinners to hear every detail of that trip. Every single detail.

Luke's entire life revolved around "teaching" others. Everything from trivia to creating some device that would make life easier. Luke was a pro at getting out of manual labor by inventing some gadget or tool that would do things for him. Work smarter, not harder was his motto. Also, he could be heard saying "Did you know..." and then he would quote various trivia. If you already knew the answer, he would continue until he stumped you. He was determined to teach each person he came in contact with something new every day. The license plate on Luke's van reads DIDUKNW. However, Luke was sometimes a bit challenging, especially if he thought you were wrong.

Luke was also quite a jokester. His favorite day was April Fools Day. He believed that was the "anything goes" day. He had a box full of pranks and he used them to their fullest extent, whoopie cushions being his favorite. His favorite victims were his school principals and his little sister. However, one day while flying out of LAX airport our whole family got detained because Luke had a whoopie cushion in his carry-on luggage. Apparently, not everyone knows what a whoopie cushion is. Needless to say, we almost missed our flight home. Not so funny. Luke also liked to tell jokes. When he was little, he would make them up, they didn't always make sense. His jokes were much funnier as he got older.

Besides his silliness and fact challenges, Luke was known for his kind and gentle heart. He was never too busy to lend a hand. He was always eager to help someone in need, whether he knew them or not. He thought random acts of kindness were is calling.

Luke had a huge life before his accident. Over the school years, he was in boy scouts, basketball, football, wrestling and track. He regularly attended Sunday school, taught bible school and he babysat the neighbor kids. He taught all the little kids in the neighborhood how to make a flashlight using a ball point pen along with many other gadgets. At summertime BBQs, he loved explaining how to find the constellations in the sky. He also enjoyed camping, boating, fishing and hunting, especially with his dad and his Uncle John. He spent many summers on Holter Lake playing and fishing and many birthdays sledding on "Fisher's Hill" outside Lincoln. He tried skiing once, that didn't work out too well. Luke loved to be outdoors, it didn't matter what he was doing.

Then on October 11, 2007 Luke was in a horrific car accident - he fell asleep driving to school on the interstate. Although, he was wearing a seat belt the injuries he suffered were nearly fatal. As a result, Luke sustained an extremely critical traumatic brain injury which left him in a coma for several months. The accident was devastating to all who knew him. An incredible outpouring of love and support appeared out of nowhere. There must have been over 100 people squeezed into the surgical waiting room that day. From that day forward, not only were our lives changed forever, but so were countless others. It turns out, Luke touched other people's hearts as much as he did ours. We learned stories of 1000s of random acts of kindness Luke did for others. Everything from helping a friend with a broken arm write her valentines, setting up complicated wiring systems for teachers, carrying other kids' books, opening stuck lockers and even making homemade chicken soup for a friend's sick mama after helping them move to a new home. The stories were endless and amazing.

Although, Luke never regained full consciousness, he was able to communicate with people. He taught himself to blink responses to questions. He became very good at it. The accident left him completely disabled. He was on tube feeding and required around the clock care. However, he could hold on to things tightly with his hands. If you laid on his chest he would pull you up tight and hug the life out of you. But none of that stopped Luke from having a life.

After 5 months, Luke was released from the hospital. We took him home and started a new life plan. Luke went to church on Sundays and he never missed his sister's volleyball or basketball games or even track meets. He went to numerous community events, he went to the movies and we were even able to take him camping, boating and fishing once again. On June 5, 2016, Luke actually caught an 18" rainbow trout on Holter Lake. Luke was so proud he smiled and stuck his tongue out at us.

Although, Luke couldn't talk, he made himself known with yells that resembled a clock radio alarm. But he was also given a "push-button" whoopie cushion that he really enjoyed using to get attention. Luke never lost his sense of humor. If you asked him if he loved you, he would blink "no" and then smile and blink "yes." He would roll his eyes at ridiculous conversations. He liked to play thumb war and smash your fingers. He became incredibly strong and could pull you right over with one arm.

We did our best to continue our traditions and family events. On Luke's 21st birthday we put him on a cargo sled and pulled him behind a snowmobile around his aunt's ranch in Helmville. We took him swimming at the Cascade pool and Brown's Lake in Ovando. He sat around many campfires listening to everyone's stories, giving the occasional eye-roll. He also went both day and night fishing on the boat. Luke was never left behind.

Luke also loved the Denver Broncos. He could be seen wearing his lucky bronco hat, coat and blanket everywhere he went. What Luke loved the most about the Broncos was actually QB John Elway. Luke had a poster of Elway at the foot of his bed. He saw it everyday as an inspiration to never give up. John Elway never gave up and came from behind to win countless games. In the same way, Luke defeated the odds on more than one occasion when the doctors and nurses thought he couldn't possibly survive. And then in true Elway fashion, Luke would somehow pull ahead and win his medical battle. That poster still hangs above Luke's bed where he could see it day and night. Luke had the great honor of meeting John Elway in person on June 18, 2016. We were invited to spend the day with him and friends at a local ranch. He signed footballs for both Luke and Ashton and took lots of pictures with us.

Luke had a full, busy life all the way to the end. He challenged people to work hard, think and learn something new. Luke was a thinker and a teacher both before and after his accident. But his greatest achievement was teaching patience, kindness, compassion and love for others. Every day was a good day, but some were better than others. Luke's infectious smile, along with his teachings and memories will live on in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Luke is survived by his parents, sister, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He was particularly close to his Uncle John and Aunt Lori Beckman, Uncle Ben and Aunt Penny Knaff, cousins John Beckman, III (Cassey) and Jessica Knaff, Honorary Grandma Chris McKnight and his longtime caregiver Linda Pennock (Kaden & Skylar).

A Celebration of Life and Inurnment will be July 13. Location TBD. In lieu of flowers, donations in Luke's name can be made to the Brain Injury Alliance of Montana.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on June 12, 2019
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