The Reverend Dr. Paul Clark Clayton, of West Hyannisport, passed away on September 23, 2019, from aspiration pneumonia at age 87. The third child of John and Mildred (Clark) Clayton, he was born on November 4, 1932, in Worcester, Massachusetts. When he was a child in West Boylston, his pastor said, “Paul would make a good minister someday”—a comment he found ridiculous because of his dyslexia and stutter.
Paul conquered those ailments to graduate from Kimball Union Academy (1951), Middlebury College (1955), and Andover Newton Theological School (BD, 1960; DMin, 1984). He served three United Church of Christ pastorates in Massachusetts: Central Congregational Church in Orange, 1959–1965; Second Congregational Church in Beverly, 1965–1974; and Needham Congregational Church, 1974–1996. He also served many roles in the state and national church organizations and other nonprofits, including stints as board chair of the United Church Board for World Ministries and Boston’s City Mission Society.
Paul loved to tell the story of his 1960 blind date with Jacklyn Blake and his decision while driving from Orange that only a good-looking woman would deserve a nice meal. They ate at The Meadows in Framingham. Six weeks later Jackie left for Turkey to begin a teaching career. The following summer, Paul convinced the Orange church that every pastor needed to see the Holy Land; during his trip he also saw a great deal of Jackie, and proposed to her. They married in 1962 and remained close partners for the rest of his life. They made frequent trips to Turkey, where Jackie had been raised, and traveled the United States in a VW campervan with their children John and Cathy.
After he retired from the parish ministry, Paul and Jackie moved to a marsh-side home in West Hyannisport, on his beloved Cape Cod. They became active members of West Parish of Barnstable. Paul taught and aided in strategic planning at Andover Newton, and authored books including Mission: A Parish Perspective (1993), Letters to Lee: Mentoring the New Minister (1999) and Called for Life: Finding Meaning in Retirement (2008).
Those accomplishments pale, however, next to the mentorship and quiet leadership that Paul offered to colleagues, parishioners, family, and friends. He could convey his deep moral instincts with a gentle nature and overwhelming kindness.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings Dave and Connie. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jacklyn Blake Clayton of West Hyannisport; their children John (Red Lodge, Montana) and Cathryn, her husband Luca Macchiarulo, and their son Thomas (Honolulu, Hawaii).
A memorial service will be held at West Parish of Barnstable on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Paul’s memory to West Parishof Barnstable