About Midland Empire Insurance

Midland Empire Insurance Agency was started by William (Uncle Bill) F. McKibbon a WWl veteran. Uncle Bill came out of WWl with tremendous mustard gas scars on his face as he was a US Army gas mask tester stateside. He developed a successful insurance agency until being called back into service for WWll. This affected the agency greatly. Upon his return in 1945 he then had to rebuild the agency until he sold it to Clem and Sylvia Lesueur in 1958.

Please come into our office and see our “Midland Empire Museum” with Uncle Bill’s desk blotter which shows the old four digit office phone number, and many other items.

Clem and Sylvia Lesueur were both originally from New Jersey and had been childhood sweethearts when they were 8 years old. Clem enlisted in the Marines in February of 1942, thinking that he would be fighting in France, as he spoke fluent French because his parents were French immigrants. Fatefully the Marine Corps’ mission was not in Europe, but in the Pacific, where Clem, at Guadalcanal was bitten by a mosquito and contracted malaria and Filariasis which developed into elephantiasis. This is a tropical disease in which a mosquito transfers the worm parasite to a person and the parasite blocks the lymphatic system causing the swelling of body parts. The Marines had a hospital in Klamath Falls, Oregon, because at 5,000 feet above sea level the parasite goes dormant, so Clem was transferred there on April 1, 1945 to recuperate. Clem fell in love with Klamath country and when he was mustered out of the Marine Corp in 1945, he made Klamath his home. Clem started many business from 1945 – 1950.  Since he had joined the Marine Corps Reserve he was called back for the Korean War in 1950. During that time he proposed to Sylvia and they were married in 1951 after his discharge from the Marines a second time. Sylvia worked in a bank and Clem worked in real estate sales until they purchased Midland Empire from Bill McKibbon. The agency grew and grew and in 1984 their son Lance and his wife, Bernice purchased the agency.

Clem and Sylvia’s son Lance was born in Klamath Valley Hospital in 1955. Klamath Falls was a booming timber town, a great time and place to grow up in. Lance was involved in scouting and achieved his Eagle Scout award in 1970. He played varsity basketball for the Klamath Union Pelicans under the great coach, Al Keck. Lance graduated from high school in 1973 and joined the United States Marine Corps, participating in the evacuation of Viet Nam, (Operation Frequent Wind) and Cambodia (Operation Eagle Pull) and the Mayaguez incident. He was mustered out of the corps as a Sergeant in 1977. After attending one year at Oregon Institute of Technology, he transferred to the College of Insurance in New York City in 1978 and worked in their work/study program, working at Frank B. Hall, the third largest insurance brokerage house in their Wall Street office. Lance graduated from the College of Insurance in 1982 with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

While Lance was going to school and working in New York, he met and married Bernice Meehan. Bernice graduated from Rosemont College outside of Philadelphia, and was working at Hoffman-LA Roche  in the pharmaceutical division when she and Lance met. They were married in 1980.

In 1982 Lance, and his new bride Bernice came back home to Klamath Falls to work for Clem and Sylvia in the agency. In 1984 Lance and Bernice purchased the agency from Clem and Sylvia and with the help of great partners and employees, have grown the agency twelve times since the original 1984 purchase.

When not involved in the insurance world, Lance is very active in the community and his church. He is also involved in scouting and with the Hillah Shrine. Lance loves to give back to Klamath because it has given so much to him.

Bernice has worked in the agency since they returned to Klamath Falls and she and Lance have raised three children. Bernice served as a Girl Scout leader for several years and was in the Venture Club, Assistance League and is currently treasurer for Soroptimist.

In 2010 Midland Empire merged with Jeff Clark Insurance in Grants Pass, an agency that had been in the Clark family since 1920. The current owners, Jeff and Celia Clark are still actively involved in the agency and the merging of the two agencies has been beneficial for both.

Jeff & Celia Clark ran a great local agency in Grants Pass for over 40 years working in the family business that started in 1920. In 2010 Midland Empire merged with the Clarks who have now transitioned into retirement. This has been a blessing for them because they now have more time to play with grandkids and explore the West Coast.  Jeff and Celia Clark have left the agency in Midland Empire’s capable hands to ensure clients still receive the same great customer service that has been the Clarks motto for years: “Service is the Key”
In 2016 Lawton Lesueur joined the family business and moved to Grants Pass. He has worked the commercial side and has enjoyed the challenge and appreciates all he has learned and continues to learn.  Lawton graduated from Henley High School in 2006, joined the United States Marine Corps serving 4 years, and then went on to complete his Bachelors in Business Management from the University of Nevada in Reno.