John Vickers Clay was born in Fairview, Oklahoma on October 11, 1936 to Webster Henry Clay and Gladys Marie (Vickers) Clay.
The family moved back to Boswell when he was a child and he grew up a few steps from the Boswell school playground which served as his territory to enjoy playing ball, marbles, cowboys and Indians, riding bikes, gathering wild flowers, and sledding down the hill during winter.
When he was a young boy he was his father’s constant shadow as he conducted business around Boswell and Choctaw County and therefore gave credit to his father for teaching him the attributes of a man who is respected. He gave credit to his mother for providing a loving home atmosphere and teaching him manners, courtesy, and respect for elders.
One thing he really enjoyed growing up was the fun and friendship in the community, especially Saturday nights when young and old went to town and the stores stayed open until 10:00.
With strong examples from his parents he began working and developing his own sense of responsibility and work ethic around the age of 16 when he worked for farmers and ranchers and at a local service station. After high school he spent a couple of years in Dallas working various jobs and in 1957 volunteered for two years of service in the US Army. His duties took him to France where he spent 18 months assigned to a Supply Company and he then earned the rank of Sergeant as he returned home and completed his obligations with two years in the Army Reserve. He said that his time in the Army gave him an education and travel that he never would have experienced and pride that he had served his country.
At this time he was back in Dallas and through mutual friends met his future bride, Jackie Canaday. They had a short courtship and were married on April 28, 1962 in her hometown, Mount Vernon, Texas. After a brief time in Dallas they moved to Boswell where he entered into a partnership with his brother and purchased Brown’s Dry Goods, changing the name to John Clay and Company. In addition to this he also opened Western Mart in Hugo and a gas station/convenience store in Boswell. He was always up for a new business venture.
This led him to selling out in the early 70s and taking a position with Little Dixie Community Action Agency in their Self-help Housing Program and he was later named Project Director for SHARE (Self-Help Assistance Resources and Education.) In that capacity he traveled in as many as ten states starting, directing, and managing new programs. One of his greatest joys was seeing families get new and affordable housing that they would not have experienced otherwise. He continued his dedication to this until his retirement in 2000 and worked as a consultant on a part-time basis for another decade.
In retirement he enjoyed building their dream home, worked endlessly to have an immaculate lawn, traveled with Jackie, and worked in his shop doing woodworking projects. He also spent time with family and friends and watched his grandchildren grow up.
John is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, daughter Lisa Long and husband Kendall of Durant, OK, daughter Suzanne Anteau and husband Doug of Burleson, TX, son Kyle Clay and wife Lindsey of Celina, TX, grandchildren Jared Long and wife Lacy of Durant, OK, Travis Anteau and Maggie McConnell of Bentonville, AR, Jackson Clay, Hudson Clay, Major Goin, and Jax Goin of Celina, TX, great-granddaughter Sydney Long of Durant, OK and arriving soon, great-grandson Barrett Clay Long; brother Ronald Clay of Paris, TX and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by parents Webster and Marie Clay, sister Rose Clay Ammons, and grandson Anson Clay.
Family hour will be from 6-8:00 PM Wednesday March 11th at the Holmes~Coffey~Murray Funeral Home in Durant, Oklahoma. A celebration of his life will be at 10:00 AM Thursday March 12th at the First Baptist Church in Boswell, Oklahoma. His final resting place will be the Restland Cemetery in Boswell with Jan Lee, Randy Gilbreath, Bob Yandell,
John Lewis Manous, Larry Hughes, and Jim Robinson as his pallbearers. The honorary pallbearers will be John Massey, Jerry Lester, Ed Golden, Ueal Bornmann, and Bucky Anteau.
The family respectfully request that memorials be made in John's name to the Alzheimer's Association at www.act.alz.com in lieu of flowers.
Services are under the direction of Holmes~Coffey~Murray Funeral Home in Durant, Oklahoma www.holmescoffeymurray.com
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