Deacon Dwaine Lampe:
From hurricane hunter
to rodeo clown
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Deacon Dwaine Lampe must have had nerves of steal.
His wife, Louise, on the other hand, must have had nerves of pure titanium.
Shortly after they were married on Dec. 29, 1958, Deacon Lampe began completing his final year serving in the U.S. Navy, where he was a third class petty officer assigned as a radio operator aboard a plane that flew directly into hurricanes.
“The squadron was VW-4, ‘hurricane hunters,’” Deacon Lampe said from his Spearville home. “Our job was to follow the hurricane and fly into the eye to determine which direction they were going.”
He was stationed at hurricane central in Jacksonville, Florida. For the future deacon, any fear he might have felt was waylaid by his job at hand.
“You were concerned when you were up there, but you were too busy doing what you needed to do.”
For Louise Lampe, worry was a part of her new life. Then came the day that she learned that one of the hurricane hunter’s -- her husband’s plane – reported that it was in distress.
“Missiles from Cape Canaveral would be launched into the hurricane that would transmit data,” Deacon Lampe explained. “Then one time they launched some missiles into the south side of the hurricane, we were told that we would have to fly out the north side. We always flew out the south because the north was too dangerous.
“We started out, and the weather was too rough. We received some damage and since I was the radio operator, I was told to tell them they can shoot their missles if they want, but we’re going out the south side.”
Finally, after a year of worry, Louise welcomed her husband home where he would get into the relatively less dangerous world of the feed business.
“And that’s when he became a rodeo clown,” Louise said, shaking her head.
As a youngster, Deacon Lampe had enjoyed being a bronc rider.
“And I rode some bulls. Got on to some, anyway; don’t know how many I rode,” he said with a laugh.
With his love for rodeo intact, Deacon Lampe donned the makeup and garb of the clown and took to the rodeo circuit, taking part in some five or six rodeos a year for a decade. While it may look like good fun to the crowd, diverting the attention of an enraged bull away from a cowboy or cowgirl isn’t for the timid.
But, like his work in the Navy, Deacon Lampe was quick to shrug off any talk of danger.
“I would divert the bulls, entertain the people,” he said. “I enjoyed that. I probably got hit a few times. Never had to go to the hospital.”
When asked what Louise thought about it, he said “We didn’t talk about it much. I guess she just knew it was something I liked to do.”
Before he ever imagined flying into a hurricane, but after he had ridden more than one bucking bronco, Deacon Dwaine was considering becoming a priest, and even entered Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. while a sophomore in high school.
“The call was always there,” he said, “like an itch you can’t scratch.”
When St. Mary of the Plains High School opened in Dodge City, he switched schools and graduated in 1954. It wasn’t long before he went into the Navy, and met the woman who would change his life.
“When I heard about the deaconate program, I thought if they ever have the opportunity in the Diocese of Dodge City, I sure would like to do that.”
It was while he was working in the feed business in Scott City in the late 1970s that the deaconate program gained a foothold in southwest Kansas. Deacon Lampe became one of seven to be ordained from the first ever class of deacons for the Diocese of Dodge City. He and Deacon Erasmo Rodriguez are the only surviving members of that first class.
Although the class is for men, wives take a very active part in their ministries.
“We’ve always worked with marriage prep and enrichment,” Deacon Lampe said. “We also work with Faith and Light [a community for physically and intellectually disabled children and adults].”
“Louise has been involved probably just as much as I have,” Deacon Lampe said. “We’ve served in Retrouvaille together, and in marriage prep. She’s very actively involved in the ministry.”
The most rewarding part of his ministry has been serving in Retrouvaille, where for 14 years he helped to save marriages. Deacon Lampe and Louise have five children, 12 grandchildren, and eight great- grandchildren.