We are saddened to report on the passing of our longtime friend and Lighthouse Digest contributor Richard “Dick” Clayton.
We first met Richard Clayton and his wife Joyce in Maine in 1998 when we stumbled into each other as a result of our joint interest in lighthouses. His first story, “The Wave” appeared in the June, 1999 edition of Lighthouse Digest and ten years later his story number thirty-six, “The Fearless Four,” appeared in the November, 2009 edition.
But before he got involved with lighthouses, Richard Clayton had already led an interesting life. After growing up in small town in Nebraska, a long way from any lighthouses, he served four years in the U.S. Air Force and then attended and graduated from Baylor University in Texas. Then, by choice, he ended up working in the television industry for twenty years where he became personally acquainted and worked with many of the most notable people in that industry of that time.
In early 1975, Richard Clayton and his partner Edylene McGill decided to take a photo trip from California to New England to take photos for the upcoming 1976 Bicentennial. A friend of his, Tom Huth, who had served in the Coast Guard at California’s Anacapa Island Lighthouse, said that he had never seen a New England Lighthouse and asked Richard if he would take a photo of the lighthouse in New London, Connecticut. After a 3,000 plus mile trip from east of Los Angeles in a motor home, he soon found him standing on the shore of Long Island Sound, behind a medium format camera mounted on a tripod photographing his first lighthouse.
That’s when Edylene, while looking at the road map, suggested that as long as they were that they visit and photographs some more lighthouses, and thus began a 30 year quest in photographing and researching lighthouses, a journey that took them to the National Archives, the Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the Library of Congress, countless Coast Guard bases, and of course many lighthouses. This was all done in a 24-foot mini motor home towing a Jeep, most of it being done in the days before GPS navigational devices and the Internet.
Edylene passed away in 1994, and Richard met Joyce. They married and the couple settled in California. But they still made time for numerous lighthouse journeys.
In recent years, Richard Clayton penned a fictional lighthouse novel and numerous poems, but sadly none of them ever made it into printed books, which had been his dream.
We will miss Richard Clayton’s regular emails that were always interesting and loaded with unique memories. But, most of all, we will miss his friendship and his loyalty to saving and preserving lighthouse history. Our sincere condolences go out to his wife Joyce and his wide circle of friends. He will be missed, but not forgotten.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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