Clavon "Clay" (Gatewood) McGrath

Obituary
  • "To the family of Mrs. Clayvon McGrath, my deepest sympathy...."
    - Marilynn Harmon
  • "Very sorry for your loss. Please continue to rely on each..."

Clavon Gatewood McGrath, 77, passed away on December 17, 2013, in Juneau, Alaska, after a short illness, surrounded by her daughters and supported by her friends and caregivers. Clavon was born in Norfolk, Virginia to Helen Gatewood McGrath and Everett Upshur McGrath. She was a member of the first graduating class of Virginia Beach High School in 1954. She moved to New York City to study dramatics and voice and was an active participant in theater throughout her life. She returned to the tidewater area and became a licensed flight instructor at Piedmont Aviation in 1958. She married Carl Swertfeger in 1960 and they were blessed with two daughters; Laura and Lianne.

Clavon, known to her friends as "Clay", moved to Bedford, Virginia and was a member of the Little Town Players from 1977 until 1982 and participated actively during that time as an actor, director and member of the Board of Directors. After her move to Marathon Florida in 1982, she went on to work with the Marathon Community Theater as an actor, director and member of the Board of Directors including leading the organization as its president for multiple terms. She was instrumental in establishing a permanent home for the MCT and creating an after school drama program at Marathon High School. She was awarded a lifetime membership in the MCT in 2001.

During her later years, Clay lived in Bradenton, Florida; Chichester, NH and most recently, Juneau, Alaska where she made many friends and was an active member of the community. She was diagnosed with COPD in 2006 and she credited the medical community in Juneau, especially the staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital (BRH) and Wildflower Court, with helping to greatly improve her overall quality of health, allowing her last years to be independent, full and rewarding. Clay's family extend their gratitude to the physicians, nurses, CNAs and staff at BRH for taking such excellent care of Clay during her most recent illness. They would also especially like to thank her physician, Dr. Anne Standerwick, Cardiac Rehab coach; Bob Chatfield, the physical therapy department at BRH and the staff of Wildflower Court, in helping to encourage Clay to improve her health and to maintain a positive outlook for the future.

Clavon is survived by daughters Lianne Cox of Juneau, AK and Laura Rogers and her husband James of Chichester, NH; two grandsons, Noah Rogers of Chichester, NH and Garret Cox of Akron, Ohio, as well as Garret's wife Abbey and their beautiful daughter, Johanna, who was born on December 12, 2013. She also leaves a brother, Everett McGrath of Bradenton, FL his wife Gayle and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brother, Thomas McGrath and her dear friend, Hugh Galloway. Her life was blessed by several friendships that spanned decades, including those with Wesley Bragg and Jean Elizabeth McDuffie both of Virginia Beach, Va. and with her sister-in-law, Linda McGrath of Statesville, NC.

Services will be private, as she requested. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the COPD Foundation, Bartlett Regional Hospital Foundation, or Wildflower Court.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Jan. 2, 2014
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