Former Jackson resident of 36 years Wayne Charles Clayton died Nov. 1 at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls after a long illness. His family provided the following.
Wayne was born Aug. 12, 1946, in Price, Utah, the fourth child of Don Carlos and Eva Gines Clayton. Soon after Wayne’s ninth birthday, his mother died of a heart attack. That was a challenging time for him and his family. Wayne’s father married Ellen McConkie in 1957, and they had three children together. Ellen became Wayne’s second mother; he grew to love her and his half siblings deeply.
Wayne graduated from Bountiful High School in 1964 and served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the North German/Berlin mission from 1966 to 1968. Shortly after he returned from his mission his stepmother Ellen passed away after a long fight with cancer.
Wayne attended the University of Utah before and after his mission, completing four years of college. In February 1970, while attending church with his brother Carl at Brigham Young University, he met Judy Strange. Never one to let an opportunity pass, Wayne invited her out that evening.
During the next months Wayne was drafted into the Army, in spite of earlier knee injuries from basketball. He loved his country and served in Vietnam in the infantry and as a unit clerk for a combat aviation battalion. He received two Bronze Stars while there. Later in life Wayne joined the National Guard, serving in the Driggs, Idaho, firefighting unit for 14 years.
Wayne and Judy were married in the Salt Lake Temple on Nov. 17, 1972. They lived in Salt Lake City for several years, working and attending school part time, before moving to St. Anthony and Parker, Idaho.
Wayne and Judy’s oldest child, Stephanie, was born in 1974 with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. The Claytons moved to Jackson in 1978 after Wayne secured a job in 1977 in personnel with the Bridger-Teton National Forest. He transferred into engineering on the forest, giving up career opportunities to keep Stephanie in an excellent special needs program offered in Jackson at C-V Ranch. That sacrifice on his part turned out to be a great blessing. He loved his job and his co-workers. He became facilities manager for the Bridger-Teton. He always said he had the perfect job, out in the forest, checking on guard stations, water systems, and campground facilities. He oversaw several building and bridge constructions and restorations.
Wayne was a wonderful father, assisting in Stephanie’s care for many years. He and Judy also have two sons, Nathan and Jason, who were the light of his life. He loved taking them on hikes and trips to Yellowstone and teaching them how to fish and snow machine. For 17 years Wayne was the guide and photographer as Judy wrote and published a weekly newsletter in Jackson called “Teton Views.”
Wayne worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 36 years. He retired in June 2013, and he and Judy moved to Rexburg, Idaho. He continued to return to Jackson to work on the forest a couple of days a week every summer until just before his passing.
Wayne is survived by his wife, Judy; daughter, Stephanie; sons, Nathan (Becky), and Jason (Jessica) Clayton; sisters, Donnalee Benson, Joanne (Ken) Wise, and Sherrie (Scott) Openshaw; brother, Kenneth (Rebecca) Clayton; and six wonderful grandchildren whom he loved deeply.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Sandy Clayton, and brother, Don Carlos Clayton III.
His funeral service was held Nov. 4 in Hibbard, Idaho. Visit TinyURL.com/WayneClayton to watch the service. Burial was in the Parker Cemetery with military rites. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Champ’s Heart, an equestrian program for disabled and ill children, 2643 Galway Circle, Idaho Falls, ID 83404; ChampsHeart.org.