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I am a Veteran.JOE CLAYTON

Joe Clayton

Joseph Edward Clayton, 83, of Clinton, Mississippi, passed away at home Wednesday, November 17, 2021, from congestive heart failure. His wife of 52 years, Mary, was by his side until the end.

He was born in Williamston, North Carolina, on August 30, 1938, and loved to tell tales of the mischief he got into as a boy there. After graduating from high school in his hometown, Joe enjoyed every minute of his time as a Blue Devil at Duke University, and he still managed to graduate with a master's degree in forestry in 1961. He later completed additional post-graduate work at Michigan State University. Joe spent 40 years as a forester with the U.S. Forest Service, ending his career managing land in Mississippi's six national forests. He also served with the U.S. Army's Intelligence Corps in Washington, D.C. from 1961 to 1964.

A tennis enthusiast, he played as often as he could until his hip gave out at age 80, and he arranged his schedule so he could watch Wimbledon every year. He loved to cut a rug, especially to Beatles tunes, and took Mary dancing once a month at the Metropolitan Supper Club. As a member of the Jackson Bridge Association and a Life Master, Joe also enjoyed playing bridge with Mary and other couples, but he especially looked forward to his weekly "old men's bridge group," partly for the great company and partly for the delicious fried oysters they had for lunch.

Always up for an adventure, Joe took advantage of his retirement years to travel with Mary to 65 countries in six continents. Their favorite city was Paris, and their favorite country was Italy, especially the Sicily region. Other highlights included visits to Easter Island, Nepal, China, Tanzania, New Zealand, and Machu Picchu in Peru. When he was closer to home, he logged countless miles driving to visit his children and other family, stopping at national parks (at least 12) along the way.

Joe rarely said no to a bargain, and he could never resist the public library's book sales. His shelves were stacked with books he had read mixed with piles of unread books he would not part with because he might get around to reading them one day. But the stories he loved most were the ones told in person, with family or friends, especially when the stories were told while sharing a good meal. He liked to tell stories that made people laugh, but he also liked to listen as other people shared their own stories. He was curious and genuinely interested in others, and he was never rushed or preoccupied while listening.

Joe was a beloved member and leader at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson since moving to the area in 1976, where he was known for his kindness, generosity, and coffee-fueled conversations.

Joe is survived by his wife, Mary Yancey Clayton. He was Dad to daughters Kathryn Porter (Brett) of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Beth Luthye (Curt) of Baltimore, Maryland; and son Yancey (Ingrid) of Los Angeles, California. He was Pops to grandchildren Ashton and Clayton Porter, Graysen Luthye, and Henry Clayton. He is also survived by his older brother Robert Clayton of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joe was predeceased by his father, Darryl Vincent Clayton, Sr., and mother, Mary Spruill Clayton; his older brother Darryl Vincent Clayton, Jr.; and an infant brother, William Gray Clayton.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 at 2 Wright Ferguson Funeral Home in Clinton. More details will be available at Joe would probably have been a little embarrassed by the idea of gifts in his honor, but in lieu of flowers, he would have been pleased with donations in his memory to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson (


Joe Clayton
August 30, 1938 - November 17, 2021





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