John William Clayton, 100 years, 11 months, passed peacefully on Friday, February 7, 2020, at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Born March 5,1919, in Luke, Maryland, he served in Civilian Public Service from June, 1941 until January, 1946, starting with the forestry program in Grottoes, Virginia and finishing as an orderly in a veterans' hospital in Lyons, New Jersey.
A 1949 graduate of Bridgewater College, John joined the Virginia Health Department, first as a sanitarian and later serving as Director of Environmental Health in Fairfax County, from which he retired in 1987.
A service-oriented person, John was well known for his kind heart and loving spirit. A lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren, he served in various roles in the Oakton congregation teaching Sunday school, being a member of the Church Board, and singing in the Church choir for over 50 years. A gifted man, John's many interests encompassed gardening, photography, drawing, and oil painting. Co-workers, family, and friends looked forward to birthday limericks and other personal poetry from John.
John and Fran were high school sweethearts in Westernport, Maryland, then they were married sweethearts in Fairfax County then in Mount Solon, Virginia, for 59 years, until Fran's death in late 2000. He was devoted to her, to their daughters, and to an enormous extended family. John was a good friend to so many. To know him was to love him. In his later years, he had dementia, and he freely bestowed warmth on everyone through his bright smiles and frequent expressions of the following phrases. "Bless you," "I love you," "You are beautiful," and, "You are a goodie." He thanked folks for every kindness, big and small, and he began hand kissing as a greeting about five years ago, to the delight of many.
John's great sense of humor and quirky puns brought us so much laughter. Even in the past few years, it was amazing he still recognized and used opportunities for word play.
In addition to Fran, John was preceded in death by his parents, William Henry and Lillie Jane Hartman Clayton; his sisters, Dorothy Barr and Anna Burke; his brothers, Ernest Clayton and Charles Clayton; four sisters-in-law; seven brothers-in-law; a son-in-law; several nieces and nephews; and, many friends. We can well imagine a crowded welcoming party of his loved ones in spirit.
John is survived by his daughter, Neva Clayton of Bridgewater, and daughter and son-in-law, Dena Clayton and Joseph Hoagland of Mount Solon, Virginia; close family friend, Maggie Houchins, of Florida; generations of nieces and nephews; and, a host of friends.
Family and friends will be received at the Boal Funeral Home, 111 Church Street, Westernport, Maryland, on Friday, February 14th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday, February 15th from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. A service will follow the visitation at 11:00 a.m. with Pastor William Shimer officiating.
Graveside service and interment will be in Philos Cemetery, Westernport.
A memorial service will be held at the Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Virginia. For the safety of all during the coronavirus pandemic, there is an indefinite postponement.
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of your choice.
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