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William T. Clayton

Obituary for William T. Clayton

June 8, 1925 - February 5, 2018
Central, South Carolina | Age 92


William Thomas Clayton, 92, passed on to his heavenly home on Monday, February 5th, 2018. Bill was born in Central, SC in 1925 to Paul and Rachel Clayton. From an early age, he was interested in agriculture, regularly walking 5 miles to the family farm so that he could be involved in its daily activities. At 17 he enrolled in Clemson College, a military school at the time, to pursue a degree in Agronomy, but when WWII broke out a year later he enlisted in the U.S. army. Private Clayton was in combat in the European theatre, notably fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he opted to remain in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation, attending Weihenstephen University, a branch of the University of Munich, for a semester. While in Europe, Bill took notice of the fact that their fields held up better against erosion. He observed their planting practices and then brought those same methods back to America, promoting better soil conservation. Upon his return to the States, Bill re-enrolled at Clemson, completing his undergrad in Agronomy and then obtaining a Master's degree in Animal Science. Those degrees served him well when he was hired by the Georgia Extension Service as the University of Georgia beef cattle specialist. Later, he moved back to his hometown, where he was employed as a rural letter carrier and, always, as a farmer, working the land that had been in his family since 1780. Giving back to the community was important to Bill, and he did so in a variety of capacities: taking part in the Pickens County Planning Commission for over 30 years, having been appointed as chairman for part of that time; serving the Farm Bureau as president of the Pickens County chapter and as a State Director; as well as on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Cattlemen's Association and the Pickens County Habitat for Humanity. He retired from the Postal Service in 1984, but continued to pursue his love of farming.

While he was working in Georgia, Bill met the love of his life, Sara Margaret Worley, whom he introduced as "his bride" for the entirety of their lives together. Bill and Sara were married for 50 years, and their relationship was supportive, complementary, and dynamic. Bill's fashion sense may not have been fully developed when they first married, but Sara was persistent in fostering it. In his later years her influence was clear, as he was adamant even in his 90's that black shoes and a brown belt could not be worn together. In their later years, the Claytons enjoyed traveling, both in the US and Europe, particularly appreciating their trips to Spain, Germany, and Normandy, France. They loved to entertain and were also devoted to their community, enthusiastically volunteering in church and county causes. Bill and Sara were dedicated to their family, especially to their only daughter, Susan, who was undeniably the apple of her father's eye.

Bill had many passions in life - God, his country, and his family being the foremost. Slightly below those lofty values fell his other priorities: eating, collecting paper in any form, and Clemson Football. Always a devoted fan of the game, Bill played football for a championship Army team alongside players that would go on to play professionally. Once his time as a player had ended, his enthusiasm for football was transmitted - with gusto - to his Clemson Tigers. No one's blood has ever run more orange. Bill Clayton held season tickets in Death Valley for half a century and never left a Clemson game before the last second ticked off the clock.

Above all, Bill loved people. He could connect to anyone and he never met a person he didn't find interesting, or in whom he couldn't find something to esteem. One of his most oft-repeated sayings was, "Everyone's got a PhD in something," and he treated each individual he met with that kind of respect. He was an engaging conversationalist and an excellent listener, and although he only had one child, Bill was a father figure and mentor to many. Children on his mail route used to stand at the end of the lane for hours just waiting for him to come by, because he would always have a story or a listening ear.

Bill was a member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church where he served as an Administrative Board Member, Lay Speaker, Superintendent of Adult Church School, Sunday School Teacher and member of the Staff-Pastor-Parish Committee. Even once he moved in with his daughter down in the Atlanta area, he continued to attend church with her for as long as he could, and after that they would listen to sermons together. Bill had family worshipping alongside him to the very end of his days, just as he would have wanted.

Bill is survived by his daughter, Susan Clayton Davis (Phil) and his granddaughter, Elizabeth Kaleen Davis of Atlanta, GA, as well as his grandson, Stephen Coy Davis (Brandi), and two great-grandchildren - Noah and Emma Davis of Greenwood, SC. He also leaves behind brother-in-law Charles Worley (Janice) of Rome, GA, sister-in-law Elree Bridges Worley of Canton, GA, and a host of nieces and nephews whom he valued greatly. Those who went before him include his wife, Sara; his brother-in-law, Clyde Worley of Canton, GA, and his brother, Ramsay Clayton of Central, SC.

A celebration of Bill's life will be held on Saturday, February 10th at 1:00 p.m. at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Central, SC, with the Reverend Derrick Porter and the Reverend Gene Akin officiating.

The family will receive friends immediately after the service with a reception following in the church Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of William T. Clayton to Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, PO Box 186, Central, SC 29630, or to Heifer International, PO Box 8058, Little Rock, AK 72203. Condolences may be expressed online at or in person at Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, Central-Clemson Commons, which is assisting the family.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
    P.O. Box 186
    Central, SC 29630
  • Heiffer International
    P.O. Box 8058
    Little Rock, AR 72203

Arrangements By

Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home & Crematory

108 Cross Creek Road
Central, SC 29630
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