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Claiborne Campbell Jones

Died: December 21, 1986

Clay Jones entered Yale in the fall of 1961, having attended Catholic schools and prepared at Cascia Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his home town; but he was on leave from Yale during 1963-64 and joined the Class of 1966 when he returned to Yale in the fall of 1964. Clay had contracted polio as a child, and he did limp, but it never entered his conversation or seemed to affect him, friends report. At Yale he participated in freshman crew and Pierson College crew. He was also active in Dwight Hall, in particular the Puerto Rican Project during 1964-65.

Clay was a political science major and appeared on the Dean’s List, but his real interests were in aesthetics and languages. Fellow Piersonite Ralph Faville remembers that Clay was “brilliant in linguistics,” and family members relate that Clay spoke seven languages! Indeed, following Yale he studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris and followed that with a year or more studying in Italy. As a result of his fluency in languages, Clay came to be equally at home in Europe and North America. He was, in his family’s words, “an inveterate traveler;” and he worked with a good friend who had a Travel Club, for which his fluency in seven languages regularly proved invaluable. Clay’s travels weren’t limited to Europe, and Ralph recalls him traveling in the U.S., staying with friends, including Ralph.

Clay made his home in Trexler, Pennsylvania, a small town near Kempton, later to be listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. Trexler is an old town, a stagecoach stop in the late 1700s and later a populous, thriving railroad town in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it served the farming population by enabling them to ship and receive goods easily. Clay’s home was an old, two story log inn that had once been owned by a Union General during Trexler’s thriving years; but it had become rundown as highways and trucks replaced the railroad, and Trexler’s population shrank to about 25. There had been persistent efforts by some to have the state or township repair the old log inn, but state and local funding was lacking.

Enter Clay, who had many interests but had long loved aesthetics and appreciated culture and history. Clay purchased the property, had the log inn restored, and preserved the inn, which helped in getting Trexler listed as a National Historic Place. Clay made the old inn his home. Family and friends visited. It was evident, one said, that it had been an inn and a railroad town. The railroad went by the inn, pretty close, and one relative reported being able to sit in the large, spa-like tub in the upstairs bathroom, with the window open, and being able to wave to the engineer as the trained rolled by!

Clay Jones passed away on December 20, 1986, after what family relate was a prolonged illness. Clay had not married and did not have children. Surviving him were, and are, his older brother (by 14 years) Edwin B. Jones III and Edwin’s wife Rosemary.