Clay Williams, beloved family patriarch, organized his final family gathering as he peacefully transitioned to a better place. Clayton Sidney Williams, 83 years young, passed away on November 1st, 2020 at Independence Village in Midland, Michigan surrounded by loving family. He will ever be remembered as son to Sidney and Darlene Williams, brother to Joyce Cagle and her husband Lonnie Cagle, husband to Joanie Williams (deceased), and father to Kathy (Robert Horsley), Michael, Kim (Gregg McLean), Stephen (Holly Williams), and Brad (Jennie Williams) Brother in law to John and Jimmy Miller. He will always be “Grandpa Clay” to his 12 treasured grandkids and “Great Grandpa” to four cherished great grandkids. Clay was a loving partner to Kathy Canady in the years since Joanie passed.
Clay was born in Oakland, CA on September 9, 1937. He graduated from Oakland Tech High School in 1955. Clayton was a protective older brother to his precious sister Joyce during their childhood in Oakland, California. Yet, Clay would often coax Joy into being the test subject while they discovered, “What would happen if…?” He proudly called Lonnie Cagle his brother after Joy met and married her soul mate, one of his college friends.
Clay attended University of California at Davis where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Range Management in 1960. He received a deferral from the ROTC program to earn his PhD at the University of Wyoming. He studied the migration of Elk in the Shoshone National Forest, which became a place of peace and serenity for him throughout the years. He proudly served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps before joining Dow Chemical in 1965. During his honorable service in the U.S. Army, Clay met the love of his life, Joanie, and they would transition together from military service to begin a life together working for Dow Chemical first in Minneapolis, Minnesota then moving to long-time home, Midland, Michigan. A loyal company and family man, Clay served Dow Chemical for over 27 years, during which time he was named to the role of Vice President of Global Agricultural Products and the business segment that eventually became DowElanco under his leadership. Many coworkers and neighbors became lifelong friends during the course of evening dinners and fun hosted by Clay and Joanie. Each event was conveniently “staffed” by their children who were lovingly taught the value of money and to live within their means. Clay kept an accounting ledger that was called “the book” which kept track of the hard earned quarters, dimes and nickels. The close bonds of friendship and family remain today because of the example set by these loving and fun-loving parents.
Clay was a sportsman who loved friendly competition and it showed in his tennis, snow skiing, golf, water sports, and fishing. Family members quickly transitioned from beginner to intermediate to setting their sights on beating Dad, which often came with a big dose of humility. From sports to card and board games, Clay unapologetically refused to get beat without giving his best, one of many life lessons that he and Joanie passed on to three generations. From the vacations at the cabin at Canadian Lakes to family trips to tropical locations, the “in-laws” and grandchildren learned what it meant to be part of the “Williams family.” Capturing every day as a gift, Clay showed the whole family how to enjoy life and have fun.
In 2007, Clay lost the love of his life Joanie. Family and friends helped him through this most difficult time of his life. While they say lightning rarely strikes the same place twice, Clay luckily was love-struck again when he began seeing Kathy Canady on the tennis court. Soon family vacations grew bigger and better. Through it all, Clay continued to find peace and serenity in the wilderness of Wyoming. The Ole Cowboy made many trips back to Wyoming and Shoshone National Forest after his retirement. The last visit including all of his adult “kids.” Together, we appreciated the serenity of a clear blue sky, the calm of the running stream and the late night laughter as we told stories, quoted movies, and relived those moments that were so special to us growing up. Dad was still teaching us… It’s a wonderful world… Create memorable moments… By living your life to the fullest and without regrets, you win! Always the competitor, Clay has won again. Rest in peace!
Clay will join his loving wife Joanie and grandson, Brent Romain, who passed before him and are no doubt welcoming him to a heavenly reunion.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, June 14, 2021 at Smith-Miner Funeral Home. Friends may visit with the family from 9:30 am until the time of service. Burial will take place at Midland City Cemetery.
Smith-Miner Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Williams family; to share a special memory please visit www.smithminer.com.
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