Obituary: Barbara Jane Clayton

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Barbara Jane Clayton,

Port Townsend, Wash.

July 25, 1918 – March 3, 2017

Barbara Jane (Chase) Clayton was born in Salina, Kansas to Clarence Stevens Chase and Mary Frances McMillen Chase. She graduated from St. Mary Academy in 1935 and received her BA with honors in 1975 from University of Missouri–Rolla.

Barbara volunteered as a stage hand and occasionally acted in Kansas City Children’s Theatre. Ultimately, she became a director of the Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas division of National Children’s Theatre Conference.

Barbara was a reporter and feature writer, and eventually managing editor of the Raytown News, a suburban weekly newspaper in the Kansas City area. In 1963, the National Editorial Association selected her editorial, “The Winner,” as one of six top editorials that year.

When the Raytown News (co-owned by her husband, Ken Clayton) was sold in 1964, she and Ken toured Europe, returning to the United States in 1965. Barbara worked in public relations at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City in 1965 and 1966. Later that year, the Claytons moved to Waterloo, Iowa where Barbara was affiliated with an advertising agency and was active in resident theatre, playing the lead in “Life with Father.” When Ken became Public Information Officer at Fort Leonard Wood, Barbara reveled in a “pioneer woman” adventure in their isolated cottage on the banks of the Piney River, taking time off to teach English as a second language to foreign military wives.

In 1973, she enrolled at University of Missouri–Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) where she was the oldest undergraduate. After graduation, she became an adjunct lecturer in English at UMR and was continuing education coordinator for the university at Fort Leonard Wood. While with the university, she also designed and developed a program for older adults, the University of the Third Age, which received national and international recognition.

Upon retirement, she and Ken moved to Springfield where she was active in Springfield Little Theatre, Friends of the Mid-America Singers, Springfield Opera Guild, Friends of the Library and Vision 20/20. In addition to her volunteer work, Barbara had a career in television, print and radio promotion including a TV commercial for Andy Williams and a video production for Fantastic Caverns. In later years, she facilitated a Springfield Writers’ Workshop and edited a number of published works.

In 2010 she relocated to Port Townsend to be closer to her son. For nearly seven years she wrote a series of very popular biographies of fellow residents at Seaport Landing.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ken Clayton, and her sister, Harriet Chase Neerman. Survivors include her son Clarence Michael Cornforth and his wife Linda Martin; three grandsons Ben, Matt, and Andrew; three granddaughters-in-law Marci, Carolyn and Rachel; five great-grandsons Aidan, Miles, Owen, Chase, and McLeod; two great-granddaughters Emery and Macy; her niece Francie Austin; her great-niece Melissa Button; one great-great-niece Bailey; and two great-great-nephews Dempsey and Owen. She also leaves a step-grandson, Scott Seastrom.

Memorial gifts may be made to Friends of the Library in Springfield, Missouri or to Friends of the Port Townsend Library.

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