Clayton was born in Fresno, to Glenn and Lorraine (Cregor) Johnson. He was only a toddler when his father died in an auto accident. A few years later his mother married George James who was a devoted step-father.
In 1945, his extended family moved to the Santa Cruz area. There Clay attended Soquel Elementary, Mission Hill Junior High (where he met Kathy Harra) and Santa Cruz High, graduating in 1958.
During the next four years, he worked at several jobs in Santa Cruz and Manteca, including Mazzera Produce, and Spreckels Sugar, while attending college part-time. He was drafted into the Army in 1962. Following basic training at Fort Ord, where he qualified as an expert marksman, he was sent to Berlin. His unit’s assignment was to patrol the recently constructed Berlin Wall. After several months in the bitter cold, he happily volunteered for a new position as a cook for the remainder of his tour of duty. Returning to the states, he was managing the Firestone dealership in Manteca when he and Kathy married in 1964. They were living in Stockton where he joined the Teamsters Union and drove a delivery truck when their son Matthew was born. Clay then decided to go back to school full-time on the GI Bill. He graduated from Stanislaus State College (Turlock) in 1969 with a BA in History/ Political Science and a secondary Teaching Credential. Daughter Jennifer was born two years later. The Johnson family moved to Manteca in 1977.
He devoted 32 years of his life to teaching U.S. and World History in Manteca, twelve years at Lincoln Elementary and twenty years at East Union high school. Other school related activities included student leadership, photography, yearbook, and AVID. He especially enjoyed the role of Mock Trial Coach. During this time he participated in Toastmasters and worked several years part-time as a real estate agent.
After retiring in 2001, Clay and Kathy moved back to Santa Cruz. They traveled extensively, taking their 7th trip to Europe right after 9/11, visited 3 more Canadian provinces, sought out long-lost friends and relatives from Hawaii to Florida.
Clay’s favorite places were the Ahwahnee Hotel reading room, Santa Cruz harbor beach, his club house, his garden and at the helm of a sailboat. He loved reading, photography, dancing, cooking, theatre, travel, playing cards or pool, entertaining family and friends. Time spent with children and grandchildren was precious. Diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2006, Clay spent his last ten months surrounded by wonderful caregivers at Valley Haven in Santa Cruz.
Clayton is survived by his wife of 52 years, Kathleen (Harra) Johnson, also SCHS Class of 1958; son Matthew and wife Julie (Heath) Johnson of Penn Valley; daughter Jennifer (Johnson) Machado of Manteca; brother Lyndon James of San Jose; granddaughter Megan (Johnson) and husband Travis Olson of Turlock; granddaughters Caitlin and Ava Johnson and Emily and Sarah Machado; great granddaughters Mia and Mylie Olson; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, mother, step-father, brother and sister. A memorial service will be held at United Methodist Church, 250 California St., Santa Cruz, on Saturday, August 13, 2016, at1:00 p.m., followed by a reception at the church. There will also be a celebration of life in the Manteca area in the fall. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Clay’s memory to: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, 940 Disc Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066; National Parkinson Foundation, 200 SE 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131; or East Union High School Scholarship Fund, 1700 N.Union Rd., Manteca,
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Saturday, July 23, 2016