With profound sadness we announce the passing of William “Bill” Max Clay, our loving and wonderful husband and father, and friend to so many whose lives he brightened, on July 17,2019.
Bill was 67 at the time of his death and passed away from complications after a vicious battle with mantle cell lymphoma.
Born in Brawley, California on February 15, 1952 to Estel Max Clay and Willie “Veda” Clay. They had 5 other children, Donna, John, Patrick, Andy and Thomas. Bill grew up in California and Oregon and it was in Oregon that he met the love of his life, Margaret. They got engaged on a Harley Davidson while waiting at a stoplight after a whirlwind romance of just 2 weeks. A month later they eloped to Reno and married at the Silver Bells Chapel on May 8, 1979. They had a church wedding with friends and family on June 23, 1979. On November 1, 2003 their marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church. The priest remarked that usually when a couple is married for the third time there’s been a divorce somewhere. Bill and Margaret had two children, Rita and Tyson, were foster parents to 16 children, and additionally Bill had a step-daughter, Janelle, from a previous marriage.
Bill worked at Stoneforest plywood mill for 20 years. During that time, he attended classes to achieve a millwright certification. He was very proud of the work he did in school and was especially adept at welding. Before he finished his degree, the plywood mill shut down, and he needed to find a new career. Bill went to trucking school and began work as a long-distance truck driver. It was his dream job and he often said, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this! Go drive around, see the world, and talk on the phone with my friends all day.” He loved everything about trucking, the adventure and freedom, meeting interesting people daily, being self-employed and his own boss, trying out new restaurants, and coming home with a pile of epic tales of his adventures.
Bill loved life and was a master at enjoying all the good things. His friendly and easygoing personality made it easy for him to make friends everywhere and he lit up our world with his joy. He was a wonderful storyteller and loved sharing stories and laughing. Always up for an adventure, he enjoyed boating, camping, water skiing, going for car rides, and riding motorcycles. He was a brilliant mechanic, loved to tinker on cars, and solved thousands of mystery car problems. Also, he enjoyed movies, listening to the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, and Alan Jackson, history books, attending musicals with his wife, and searching out the best taco stands in America. Bill was a devout Christian, and it was his faith and church community that saved him from a life of drug addiction. He read his Bible daily, prayed continually, and loved Jesus with his whole heart.
Bill is preceded in death by his mother, father, brother John, infant son Benjamin, nephew Jeffrey, niece BJ, and infant granddaughter Freya.
He is survived by his wife Margaret, children Rita and Tyson, siblings Donna, Patrick, Andy, and Thomas, step-daughter Janelle, step-grandchildren Scotty, Katie, and Paul, Aunt Anna-Myrle, and nephews and nieces. He was very loved by his many brothers and sisters-in-law and his many nephews and nieces-in-law. Additionally, he will be missed by his numerous dear friends.
A viewing for family and friends will be held at The Lake Funeral Home in Polson on July 19, 2019 from 12-5pm. A rosary and viewing will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Polson, MT on July 21, at 7pm. Funeral services will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Polson, MT on July 22, at 10am, with burial and reception following.