Reed Gilbert Clayton (October 15, 1922 - January 31, 2013)

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Known as "Gil" Clayton to friends and family, Reed Gilbert Clayton died at Aegis of Aptos, California, memory care facility on January 31, 2013, at 1:33 a.m., three being Gil's "lucky" number.

Born in Los Angeles on October 15, 1922, to Gustave Reed Clayton and Eva Henderson Clayton, Gil studied and worked in California until moving to Port Townsend in the early '90s.

Not long after, the mayor of Port Townsend declared April 30, 1933, as Gil Clayton Day in honor of the work Gil did volunteering with Skookum Jump Rope Company, where he developed new assembly equipment in support of Skookum's devotion to hiring people with disabilities.

Gil's 90 years of life have been filled with design accomplishments.

During high school and then after, Gil worked in commercial art, leaving Lockheed in 1942 to enlist in the U.S. Navy, serving as a radar operator on the battleship USS Tennessee in World War II in the Pacific Theater until 1945.

Following more design study, Gil worked the next 18 years in the aerospace industry, designing target drones at Radioplane, contributing to the Mercury space program at Lockheed with design on the space capsule.

At Northrop, Gil participated in confidential design of the F-5 plane, which included work with a team in Germany.

When Gil's sons became of draft age in the early '60s, Gil shifted his career to home construction and to the film industry. Asked to work on "Tora! Tora! Tora!," Gil continued as special effects and set designer and production illustrator in movies, television and theme park design until his several retirements, returning to Hollywood when called back for his special expertise.

Titles of the films Gil worked on included: "Hello Dolly," "Jaws," "Dr. Dolittle," "Breakheart Pass," "Marathon Man," "Hindenburg," "Raise the Titanic," "The Right Stuff," "War and Remembrance," "The Untouchables," "American Gigolo," "Eleanor and Franklin," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Silverstreak," "Hunt for Red October," "Batman and Robin," "Executive Decision," "Roots," "Throw Momma from the Train," "High Anxiety," "Dying Young," "Islands in the Stream," "Hiroshima," "Multiplicity," "Armageddon," "Moonlighting" and "Lost in Space."

Gil also spent time working on the television show "M*A*S*H."

His work on theme park designs included: Marineland of the Pacific, Disney World/Euro Disneyland, Shoreland Village in Long Beach, San Diego African Village, SeaWorld, Jungleland and, in Pennsylvania, Hershey Park: The Story of Chocolate people mover.

Loved ones Gil Clayton leaves behind include his sons, Michael (Linda) Clayton and Bruce Clayton and wife Barbra Senft; granddaughters Christi Clayton and Adia Clayton-Tave; niece Cindy Hill Shannon; former wives Sue Bailey and Angelina Magill Clayton; stepsons Bill (Corina) Magill and David (Joann) Magill; and stepgranddaughters Rachel, Sarah and Taylor Magill, all living in California.

In Port Townsend, Gil leaves loving companion since 2005 Patricia "Pat" Austin and many dear friends.

Preceded in death were Gil's parents, Gustave and Eva Reed; wife Ardith McCoy Clayton (mother of Michael and Bruce); wife Alice Birthrong Clayton; brother Phillip Hill; grandparents silent-screen actor Gilbert Clayton and stage star Etta Reed; great-grandfather Gustavus Reed, Civil War veteran; and longtime companion Marie Louie.

Gil requested that his ashes be scattered at sea in Monterey Bay, California, from his son's sailboat by his family with as little fuss as possible.

Gil wished family and friends the optimism and joy he strove to extract from every day, even in his fading days with dementia. Gil Clayton loved life, loved people, loved laughter and especially loved women, having grown up with doting grandmothers, mother, aunts and cousins.

He will be fondly remembered for his wonderful ability to tell a joke or funny story. He sang beautifully as an adult the American songbook and saucy sea chanteys, even as he did as a boy soprano in a Hollywood boys choir.

He amazed many with his design abilities and making the implausible feats possible with his production designs on movie sets.

Family say, if you had a home with Gil, you knew that he would stay busy redesigning walls, stairs, decks — or the whole house!

Gil was a fond believer in hospice, and at his request, no memorial is planned in Port Townsend at this time.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Feb. 17, 2013
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