Posted on: September 14, 2023
William E. (“Bill”) Clayton, Jr. went to be with Jesus on July 31st, 2023, one week before his 85th birthday. He is survived by his, son, Troy Clayton, and daughter, Amy Ayre, and their children, Jack and James Clayton, and Anna, Micah, Rebekah and Naomi Ayre. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Dorothy S. (“Dotty”) Clayton.
Bill was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 9th, 1938, to William E. Clayton, Sr. and Harriet Elizabeth Martin. He grew up in the Philadelphia area as his father rose up in the ranks of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The family moved to Richmond, VA, when Bill finished high school. He attended The College of William and Mary, graduating in 1961 with a degree in chemistry. He met Dotty at William and Mary, and they were married on June 30, 1962. Bill attended UVA medical school and did his internship and residency at The University of Florida in Gainesville. Amy was born in Charlottesville near the end of his medical school training, and Troy was born in Gainesville.
The Vietnam War draft policy provided a delay in enlistment to allow medical students to finish their training. Bill joined the Navy reserves while he finished his training. Upon completion of his internship and residency, he joined the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander and was stationed in Key West, Florida, as Chief of Urology and Chief of Surgery. He loved the Navy so much that he reenlisted. The family moved to Camp Lejeune, NC, where Bill was once again Chief of Urology as well as the Quality Assurance Coordinator. He was deep selected for Commander. At this point, Bill’s parents moved in as Bill was an only child and his parents figured they could stay in Alexandria, VA, and see their son and his family once a year for a week, or they could join the nomadic lifestyle and see their son and his children every day.
From North Carolina, the family moved to Wichita Falls, TX, where at Shepherd Air Force Base Bill headed up the military’s first physician’s assistant training program at the US Air Force School of Health Sciences. He also served as the Assistant Chief of the Department of Medicine as well as Chief of all Physician Extender Courses. Both the Navy and the Air Force presented him with Meritorious Unit Awards for his work in this program. His next posting was as Chief of Urology at the Oakland Naval Hospital where he was also in charge of the residency training program, as well as the Quality Assurance Coordinator and the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS). After a cross-country Winnebago tour, the family arrived in Alameda, CA, for a year and then relocated to San Ramon, CA, for the remaining 5 years of his posting. Bill was deep selected for Captain, and sent to Subic Bay, the Philippines, to be the Commanding Officer of the hospital as well as the Area Medical Officer for ComUSNavPhil. Following that posting, he was ordered to ComNavMedCom in Washington, DC, where he served for one year as the Director of Officer Personnel. His next post was at NAS Millington in Tennessee as Commanding Officer of the hospital and Area Medical Officer. He was sent to investigate and break up an alleged prescription drug ring within the hospital. Following that success, he was offered the commanding officer position in Naples, Italy, but he declined because there was no heart specialist for his mother. His son, Troy, an aspiring chef, lamented the lost opportunities for his continued training, so Bill reversed his decision and moved the family to Italy. (Troy went on to study and cook with renowned celebrity chefs in Italy, France and the UK, which launched his life-long culinary successes, all thanks to Dad’s decision to move to Italy!) After 3 wonderful years in Italy, Bill was sent back to Washington, DC, this time to work on the Veteran’s side of things. After 26 years, and having earned the Meritorious Service Medal (3 stars), the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Air Force and Navy Unit Commendation Awards, as well as the National Defense Medal and the AMSUS Medal, he retired from the Navy, settling in the DC area where both his children now lived.
Bill had always had a strong faith in the triune God, and was active in church throughout his life, ushering, teaching Sunday school and leading discipleship classes. While in California, he attended a Cursillo weekend which ignited his personal relationship with Jesus and his faith grew deeper and stronger. A few years after he retired from the Navy, he felt the Lord calling him to full-time ministry. He became a local licensed pastor with the United Methodist Church, and was called to a charge in Madison County, Virginia. He was a modern-day circuit rider, serving 3 churches every Sunday morning. He loved his time in Madison and was deeply saddened when his belief in the inerrancy of scripture was rejected by the Methodist leadership, forcing him to leave the pastorate. He retired (again), settling in Northern Virginia, two doors down from his daughter Amy. In the summer of 2007, he and Dotty, together with Amy, her family and her in-laws, purchased a home in Falls Church where the 10 of them lived together.
Although he no longer had an official “flock,” Bill became involved in Kairos, a Christian outreach ministry to inmates. He loved meeting and getting to know the men in the Augusta correctional facility, telling them about Jesus’ love for them and helping them ask for forgiveness and find peace and salvation. He also initiated a Sunday school class at The Falls Church Anglican, Verse by Verse, which he taught for many years.
Bill was philanthropic, donating money to many different charities. He would drop a check for $25 or $50 in the mail to most any legitimate organization that asked. He gave intentionally and generously to his church, organizations for Christian outreach (AFA, World Vision, Compassion International), organizations that supported children in crisis (St. Jude’s, Smile Train, Children International), conservative political organizations (Alliance Defending Freedom, Leadership Institute, but NOT the Republican Party in recent years 😊), and arts organizations (The Kennedy Center, The George Mason Center for the Arts).
Bill loved music. He didn’t play an instrument or sing, but he was a patron of the arts. His first love was piano music, followed closely by orchestral and choral music. His classical CD collection was vast, with more than 500 discs which included complete collections of various composers’ works. He was also an avid reader and collector of both fiction and non-fiction, and his book collection outnumbered the CDs. He remembered every book he had ever read and could discuss it with you in detail. He loved science fiction in general and the Dune series in particular, as well as all of Jan Karon’s and Patrick Taylor’s books. He owned most of C.S. Lewis’s writings, as well as a large sampling of all the major Christian authors, and at least 30 different Bibles, most of which were well marked up with his notes and observations. He was a stamp and coin collector, and he owned artwork and knick knacks from every place he had ever traveled, including Chinese sleeves, Celadon from Korea, inlaid wood pictures and furniture from Italy, Lladros from Spain and Hummels from Germany. He was a storyteller, mostly centering upon his pranks in high school and college, but also included tales from his work as a urologist and his time in the Navy. He was a devoted husband, caring for Dotty as her Alzheimer’s progressed, until her passing two years ago. He was supportive of his children, and shared with friends and strangers alike how proud he was of Troy for his culinary skills and Amy for her musical pursuits. Bill passed peacefully, asleep in his chair, to join Dotty together with all the saints and Jesus in heaven.