One of the all-time best breeders in the national greyhound racing industry was born May 26, 1906, in Portis, Kansas. The son of Chester Harvey and Ora (Feese) Lemon, Clyde Donald Lemon grew up in Portis and attended high school in Smith Center, Kansas. While in high school he worked summers as a soda jerk at the drugstore in Selden, Kansas. It was there that Clyde was befriended by Albert Home, a local breeder of racing greyhounds. Horne told Clyde that if he ever became interested in greyhound breeding to come and see him. After graduation from Smith Center High School in 1925, Clyde went to work at his uncle’s Mobile gas and service station in Portis. On January 4, 1931, he married Revo Payton in Carleton, Nebraska . They had one son, Dennis. When the Great Depression hit, Clyde needed extra income in order to take care of his family and, remembering AlbertHome’s offer, went to see him. In 1933 he bought his first registered greyhound, Fairest Fashion, from Home. His inexperience showed when he sold two pups from her first litter for one hundred dollars, well below their value of four hundred dollars. He soon became an expert at raising and training his dogs, though he never raced them himself. One of Clyde’s greyhounds first ran in the National Coursing Meet in 1934. In his career he earned sixty-five trophies from coursing parks across the United States – an all-time record.
Clyde was soon able to purchase the service station from his uncle and operated it for forty-five years. He was active in civic affairs, and in his youth played for the Portis Dynamos basketball team, a town team that attained legendary status for never losing a game for three consecutive years. The success of Clyde’s greyhound enterprise also benefited Portis when the local lumberyard owner won an award from a major dog food company for selling the most dog food of any city west of the Mississippi River – no small feat for a town of only two hundred people.
Clyde’s fame as a greyhound breeder and trainer spread and became international in scope. He helped several of his neighbors enter the greyhound business and was more than generous in his advice and encouragement. Over thirty dogs that Clyde handled have been inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kansas, including Rural Rube, one of the first three greyhounds inducted into the Hall, and Rocker Mac, said by many to be the greatest greyhound sire in the history of the sport.
Clyde served as a member of the Executive Board of the National Greyhound Association for several years and also as chairman. From 1947-49 he was vice-president of the National Greyhound Association, located in Abilene, and in 1968 and again in 1969 he was elected president of the organization. In 1979 he was inducted into the Pioneer Section of the Greyhound Hall of Fame and also the General Section of the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
Clyde’s success was due both to his own talent and also to the care he showed his dogs. His kennels were always heated and air-conditioned. He treated his dogs as athletes, training them twice a day regardless of the weather. Clyde summed it up best in his motto: “Dogs have been good to me and they’re always going to get the best I have.” On December 1, 1978, he officially closed his greyhound stables and retired from the sport.
Clyde Lemon passed away at Parkview Care Center in Osborne, Kansas, November 24, 1995. A member of the Grace Brethren Church in Portis, he was buried in the Osborne Cemetery.