Clay was born January 8, 1971, in Troy, Ohio, where he lived until his death on July 14, 2020.
Clay graduated from Miami East High School and took firefighter, EMT, and paramedic courses at Sinclair Community College and Clark State Community College. He began as a volunteer for Casstown Volunteer Fire Department, where he was a lieutenant. He worked part-time for Trotwood Fire and Rescue, Vandalia Fire Department, and Springfield Township Fire Department. He was full-time at Harrison Township Fire Department in Dayton, where he was promoted to lieutenant in September 2018. Clay was an amazing officer, highly respected by his firehouse brothers and sisters.
Clay loved and was dearly loved by his family. He was so funny that he laughed at his own jokes. Clay was the biggest supporter and cheerleader for his children. He was a hands-on dad, always in the yard playing games with his kids or taking a bike ride with his family. He was also an amazing friend, willing to lend a hand when needed.
Growing up, Clay participated in 4-H, played football, and wrestled. He was Fair King, raised large animals, and had a grand champion pig. He was an active member of the Miami County Fair Board for many years. He enjoyed a leisurely horseback ride, a casual game of golf, and being in the water. Clay loved John Wayne movies. He listened to all genres of music, but country was his favorite.
When Clay was 18, he started a fencing business, which became his side job once he became a career firefighter. Although he sold the business many times, customers would call and ask for his expertise, so he was back in business. He didn’t have to advertise. He was so skilled that word of mouth kept him busy building fence on his non-duty days.
In late 2019, Clay began having excruciating back pain. He sought out medical advice from multiple practitioners. The pain worsened as we entered the pandemic, and on April 14, 2020, our lives changed forever when he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Due to COVID restrictions, he had to spend most of his hospitalizations alone. We kept in touch via phone and FaceTime, but it wasn’t like having us there to support him. He was so brave and fought as long as his body let him. Clay passed away on July 14, 2020, three months to the day after diagnosis.
Our children and I miss him so much, as do his fire brothers and sisters. He was larger than life, and his passing has left a hole in our lives. Not a day goes by that he isn’t remembered. I see him in our children. Clay made our lives better just by being himself.
I never met Clay, but I know (and have known) so many like him. From a poem I read all too often, “His selfless dedication of his life in the service of his fellow man and to his brothers and sisters of the fire service … will never be forgotten.” Nor, will the love he obviously shared with/for his beautiful wife and his adoring children. Both will live on through the countless lives he helped, those he worked beside, and forever in the hearts and minds of Cyndi and his family. You are missed brother.
“Rest easy Leut, we’ll take it from here. It’s time to go home.”– Tim