Joe Willis Clay was born on November 29, 1928 to Boyce and Clara Crawford in Downsville, Louisiana. He passed from this life on April 29, 2010 in Sherman, Texas.
Orphaned at age 7, he was adopted by his uncle and aunt, Dr. J.A. and Beatrice Clay and moved to Durant. Graduating from Durant High School in 1946, he was named DHS Outstanding Athlete his senior year as well as being a member of the National Honor Society. After pursuing undergraduate studies at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University, he was awarded his Doctorate in Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis in 1950.
In 1951, he joined his father as part of the third generation in the longest continuing family eye care practice in the country. During his 56 years in active practice, Dr. Joe served his profession as a member of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) and was recognized by the OAOP last month for 60 years of continuous membership in the American Optometric Association. Although retired from active practice for the last four years, he remained an active part of Clay-Rhynes Eye Clinic by consulting on a daily basis.
Dr. Joe served his community by serving as President of the Bryan County Board of Health, President of the Lions Club, first Chairman of the Durant Planning and Zoning Commission, Chairman of the March of Dimes, and on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Clay married Dorothy Parker in 1952. She preceded him in death in 1992. In 1993, he married Betty Morrison, who survives. In addition to Dorothy, Dr. Joe was preceded in death by his biological and adopted parents, a sister, and three brothers. In addition to his wife Betty, he is survived by son Dr. Greg Clay and wife Pam of Durant, daughter Janet Garrett and husband Dennis of Durant, brother Dr. R. A. Clay of Oklahoma City, sisters Joy Wright of Denton and Ora Estapa of Canton, Georgia. He is also survived by eight granddaughters, three grandsons, five great-granddaughters, a great-grandson, and great-grandson to be born in two months.
Services for Dr. Clay will be Monday morning, May 3rd at 10:00 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Durant with Brother James Robinson officiating. Pallbearers will be grandson Clay Garrett, grandsons-in-law Nathan Anderson, Aaron Loney, Scott Mendell, Heath Icenhower, Michael Wallace, and stepsons Bill and Patrick Morrison. Honorary pallbearers will be Joe Barker, Joe Barrett, Dr. Jim Cunningham, John Massey, Ed Mills, David Mize, Dr. Jason Rhynes, and Dr. Gordon Wright. Burial will be in Highland Cemetery.
Family Hour will be at Coffee-Murray Funeral Home on Sunday afternoon, May 2nd from 5:00 until 6:30 p.m. The family requests that memorials be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 7023, Alexandria, VA 22312, or the Oklahoma College of Optometry at Northeastern State University, 812 N. Cedar Avenue, Tahlequah, OK 74464.
Services are under the direction of Coffey-Murray Funeral Home of Durant.