Community connections stretch across a lifetime

By Debbie Coleman-Topi Special to The Examiner

Brad Cloverdyke’s life is so closely intertwined with Lake Tapawingo that a few years away from his boyhood hometown was all the impetus he needed to readily return to lake life. Cloverdyke said he could not imagine raising his two sons anywhere else.

So, after living there since his parents chose the community to raise their children in 1960, then living in Blue Springs and Grain Valley for a few years after marrying his wife, Lisa, the couple bought a house across the street from his boyhood home in 1985.

Brad Cloverdyke

“I wanted my sons to have the same experiences you have in a lake community,” he said, adding that the area offers a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.  When not in school, water sports “were a daily thing,” Cloverdyke said of his childhood and that of his sons.

Cloverdyke was recently honored as the Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Lake Tapawingo Citizen of the Year, one of several Eastern Jackson County individuals and organizations similarly honored at the foundation’s annual gala last weekend.

Lake Tapawingo, with its proximity to Independence and Blue Springs, offers the best of two worlds – small town advantages with larger suburban amenities. Throughout the years, Cloverdyke’s family has enjoyed some of the lake’s same traditions with which he grew up. One that stands out is the annual fireworks display, which he refers to as “the rockets’ red glare” effect as the fireworks explode after being launched from the dam and surrounding yards. The spectacle creates a memorable reflection off the water, he said.

Cloverdyke, 64, has served as president of the Lake Tapawingo Homeowners’ Association and has been a board member for six years. He also has served two terms as mayor and has sat on the Board of Aldermen. He retired four years ago, following a career as a financial services executive, where he worked for 19 years at the Federal Reserve Bank and 17 years for American Century Investments, where he retired as vice president of human resources. While still working, he was a member of the board of directors for the Kansas City Charter School, Genesis, he said. He decided to focus on children and education due to a long family tradition in which his father, sister and mother all worked in the field.

He also has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Eastland Community Foundation, the School of Economics, Junior Achievement of Middle America, and the Mid-America Healthcare Coalition. Cloverdyke is chairman of the board of directors for Children International, where he also has served as a member of the board. The non-profit empowers children and their families by lifting them out of poverty by building community centers and supplementing their education by providing training and access to computers. The eventual goal is to help them attain employment. Their efforts last year helped 220,000 children living in Little Rock, Arkansas and Zambia, India, the Philippines and six countries in Latin America.

“To see children who live in abject poverty, who become young people any of us would want to hire, it feels good,” Cloverdyke said.

Cloverdyke and his wife enjoy traveling and learning about life in different cultures, and they have seen all the continents except Antarctica. To mark his 60th birthday, several family members joined him in hiking the tallest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro.

“We made it to the top, so that was fun,” he said of the eight-day trek he made with a son and sister and brother-in-law.

“Now that I’m retired, I spend a majority of my time outdoors,” skiing, boating, fishing, paddle boarding and swimming, he said and added, “It combines all the things I love about the lake.”