Vernon James Clay, 82, passed away peacefully at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth in Beaumont, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Port Arthur on July 25, 1926 to Clara Domec Clay and Joseph Vincent Clay.
He is survived by his wife of fifty-seven years, Myra Guidry Clay; daughters, Cynthia Clay Srader and her husband Jim of Shoreacres, Victoria Clay Bonsall of Beaumont, Rebecca Clay Boggess and her husband Dr. Thomas F. Boggess, Jr. of Iowa City, Iowa; son, Vernon James Clay, Jr. and his wife Christine of Beaumont; grandchildren, Heather Blythe Wallace of Shoreacres, Seth Aaron Srader of Beaumont, Benjamin James Bonsall of Beaumont, Erin Estelle, Ellen Renee, and Thomas F. Boggess, III of Iowa City, Iowa, and Dylan James Clay of Beaumont; great-grandchildren, Brittney Elaine Hargraves of Shoreacres, and Addie Claire Srader of Beaumont. He is also survived by sisters Sybil Clay Brown and her husband Bill of Beaumont, and Rita Merle Clay Miles and husband Walter of Port Arthur; and brother, Vincent Russell Clay of Houston.
Vernon graduated from St. James High School in Port Arthur in 1944. He continued a lifetime friendship with classmates and enjoyed their monthly luncheon meetings. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston in 1951. He was employed by Phillips Petroleum in Sweeny, Texas for fifteen years and then with Mobil Chemical in Beaumont until his retirement in 1989. The expansion of the facility in the late 1980s was one of the high points of his career. He was an integral part of the project from planning to completion.
He was a Texas Registered Professional Engineer, a past member of the International Maintenance Institute, a member of the American Legion, a Texas Master Gardener, and a Life Member of the Beaumont Council of Garden Clubs.
He proudly served his country in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean Conflict and continued to support organizations that assisted veterans and their families.
Vernon had a lifelong love of sports and played baseball and football during his younger years. He served as a coach for his daughters’ softball teams and later took an active part at Beaumont West End Little League when his son played there. He was a dependable volunteer and served as head umpire for two years. He enjoyed watching sports on television daily and was a loyal Astros baseball fan.
Vernon was a quiet and honest man who loved his family and took great pride in their accomplishments. He was happiest when they were all together. He was the heart of his family, a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was our guide, our mentor, our friend, and our hero.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at St. Anne Catholic Church with interment to follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Groves under the direction of Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin, Beaumont. A gathering of family and friends will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a Christian Vigil at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at the Mortuary.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Anne Catholic Church, 2715 Calder, Beaumont, Texas 77702 or Beaumont Botanical Gardens, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Beaumont, Texas 77705.