Born Nov. 20, 1907, Clayton Allen Balch died peacefully in the presence of family at Glenwood Nursing Home on Friday morning 102 years, 9 months and 27 days later.
In the interim, Clayton led a most productive life. The eldest of 10 children born to Lonza and Lou Stutts Allen, Clayton learned early to nurture others as she was thrust into the role of surrogate mom at age 15 when her mother died. Four years later, she wed her life partner, Robert Villard Balch, and they started a large family in the very teeth of the Great Depression.
Under Clayton's guidance all 11 Balch children graduated from Lexington High School and five attended Florence State/UNA earning four bachelor and three post graduate degrees. Clayton's skills at nurturing were not limited to her children. An envious relative once remarked that Clayton could poke a stick in the ground and it would grow leaves.
Preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Clayton is survived by all 11 of her children, 36 grandchildren and 86 third, fourth, and fifth generation children. She is survived by sons, Wendell Balch, of Lexington, J.V. Balch (Jeanette), of Huntsville, Ralph Balch, of Florence, Ray Balch (Susan), of Sheffield, and Anthony Balch (Druann), of Huntsville; daughters, Louise Williams, of Lexington, Zelma Hayes, of Muscle Shoals, Marcie Bullock (Orris), of Florence, Ruth Mashburn (Billy Joe), of Liberty Grove, Carol Riddle (Frankie), of Tuscumbia, and Melinda McGee (Larry), of Florence. Clayton also is survived by her brother, Gentry Allen, and sister, Shelby Killen.
Funeral arrangements are being managed by Greenhill Funeral Home. Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. today at the funeral home on U.S 43 in Greenhill. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Nebo Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Alabama 101 in Lexington, with interment to follow at the adjacent Nebo Cemetery. The body will lie in state at the church from 1-2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Villard and Clayton Allen Balch Scholarship Fund at UNA: UNA Foundation, UNA Box 5113, Florence, AL 35632-0001una.edu/give/
The family wishes to thank the staff of Glenwood Nursing Home for caring for Clayton the last year of her life.