JOE WESLEY CLAY, 71, a Renaissance man, truck driver, farmer, hunter and devoted husband to his late wife, Terry, died on April 25, 2021, the 11th anniversary of her passing.
Born in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 1949, to the late Troy Wilson Clay and Lois Kathleen McGinnis Clay, he was married to Terry Lee Ford Clay for 36 years.
While Joe had plenty of hobbies, his true love was Terry. When Terry had a debilitating stroke at the age of 48, Joe dedicated his life to caring for her full time, making sure she always had a smile on her face. When Terry died April 25, 2010, a part of Joe died as well. Joe decided Sunday that 11 years was long enough without her. Joe and Terry are happily together again. He was a dog handler for the US Air Force.
Joe loved the solitary work of driving large trucks, both short trip and overnight, and could back up an 18-wheeler as competently as he could drive it forward. His CB handle was Slow Joe because he put safety first and stayed at or below the speed limit.
Joe was a Renaissance man with a sharp intelligence, which he applied in a variety of ways throughout his life. He loved to read and write, filling notebooks with his thoughts and ideas. He taught himself Hebrew and Greek simply so he could translate the Bible himself. If Joe wasn’t familiar with a plant or tree, he would research it until he knew everything there was to know. He was a fan of home remedies and loved animals. Throughout his 20s and 30s, he had a family farm with horses, goats, chickens and sometimes a pig, and loved growing his own vegetables.
Joe was also an avid hunter who loved to hike daily. He was uncannily accurate with guns, pool, axes, knives, marbles, etc. He whittled his own bow one hunting season and shot a buck with it with one shot.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Kathleen and Troy Clay, his wife, Terry, his sister, Sylvia Pettry, sister-in-law, Pat Clay, and his beloved niece, Nikki Clay.
Surviving are his daughter, Laura Clay Berman and son-in-law Justin from White River Junction, Vt.; daughter, Billie Clay Jackson and son-in-law Gary from Frederick, Md.; and son, Jeremy Clay. He is also survived by siblings, Dallas Clay, Bill Clay and wife Clara of Hurricane, W.Va., Ron Clay and wife Shelley of Milton, W.Va.; his grandchildren, Austin and wife Kelsea, Alexa, Ryan, Julius, Evan, Audrey, Kyra, Neiva, Tyler, Patrick and Elon; and great-granddaughters, Alice, Teagan and Jordyn; as well as other close relatives and friends.
The family received friends and family on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at Watson Cemetery at 50 4 Mile Creek, Branchland, W.Va., at 11 a.m. The funeral service was conducted by Joe’s childhood friends and lifetime Pleasant View Church members Paul Fields, Greg Ellis and Bobby Lawson. Greg is the son of the late minister Hayes Ellis of Pleasant View Church.
McGhee-Handley Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Friends may express their condolences at www.handleyfh.com.