Nelson W. Clayton|
1918 - 2013
Nelson Widdison (Nels) Clayton died peacefully in his beloved home at the age of 94 on Good Friday (March 29, 2013), due to complications of pneumonia.
Nels, a great-grandson of Utah pioneer William Clayton, was born July 12, 1918, in Farmington, Utah, to Don Carlos Clayton and Bessie Widdison Clayton. He grew up in Centerville and graduated from Davis High in 1935. He raised onions on a rented plot of land to help get his family through the Great Depression and to pay his way through college. His interest in farming continued throughout his life. He cultivated a beautiful vegetable garden and orchard at his home in Granite, Utah, sharing its bounty with family and friends. Every summer his petunia patch was a bright spot along Little Cottonwood Road. Nels married Jean Thompson in the Salt Lake LDS Temple June 16, 1943. That same year he graduated with high honors with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Utah, where he was elected to Phi Kappa Phi. The Utah Section of the American Society of Civil Engineering named him the Outstanding Senior Student. Upon graduation, he was immediately commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, where he served in ship-repair units in the United States and the South Pacific during World War II.
He received a degree from the U's Graduate School of Architecture in 1951 and became a partner in the architectural firm of Barker, Barker and Clayton. In that capacity he designed and oversaw the construction of a number of schools in the Granite District, including Kearns High, Granite Park Junior High and Cottonwood Elementary, and several additions to LDS Hospital. He also designed and oversaw the construction of the LDS Church Records Vaults in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Nels was also a partner in Redlands Corp., which owned land near the I-15 interchange at Washington, Utah. He voluntarily managed the construction of the Green Spring Golf Course there, assuring its completion on time and within budget. On behalf of South Despain Ditch Co., Nels helped lay out the route for a road to White Pine Reservoir in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The road allowed for the dam to be enlarged, providing much-needed additional irrigation water to residents of Granite. Today the road serves as a popular hiking trail.
Nels had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and enjoyed many adventures with his brothers in the mountains east of Centerville during his youth. He took his children on numerous backpacking trips in the High Uintas from the 1960s to the 1990s. In 2006, at the age of 88, Nels hiked from the Snowbird parking lot to the top of Hidden Peak (a 2,900-foot ascent) in less than four hours. He continued to hike in the Wasatch Mountains into his 94th year.
One of the best things about Nels was his devotion to his family. He put their needs ahead of his and cared for his wife, Jean, through several episodes of poor health. He also spent several years helping care for elderly relatives. His brilliance and wisdom brought a deep sense of security to those in his presence. Nels was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in many capacities including bishop's counselor, stake high counselor, and gospel doctrine teacher. He led and taught by example rather than by dictum.
Nels and Jean are the parents of three children: Claudia (Bob Wrathall), Kathryn and Nelson William (Bill). Our mother died April 6, 1988. Nels is also survived by his sister, Carol Jeanne Clayton.
Our parents are together again. All is well.
A viewing will be held Sunday, April 7, from 6-8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 E. 10600 South, Sandy. The funeral will be Monday, April 8, at 12:00 Noon at the Centerville First Ward chapel, 160 S. 300 East in Centerville, preceded by a viewing from 11-11:50 a.m.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Apr. 4 to Apr. 7, 2013