DANVILLE — Clay Spurgeon, 91, of Danville, died Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, at the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon. He is remembered as a loving husband and father, businessman, civic leader and friend to many in Knox and Coshocton counties and the surrounding area.
He was born in the winter of 1920 to James Otis and Lucy Spurgeon on a farm near Walhonding. The third of four children and 9 years old at the beginning of the Depression, he learned the principles of hard work, respect for the land and his fellow man, religion, patriotism and frugality as the family prevailed through the troubled 1930s. Clay graduated from Warsaw High School in 1938 as class president and matriculated to Ohio State to begin studying for a degree in veterinary medicine.
He was in his junior year when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, stationed near San Antonio, Texas. However, he could not forget the sweetheart back home. He and Helen Kanuckel were married on a hot summer solstice, June 21, 1942, in Danville’s Methodist Church. For a young woman who had never been farther from home than to Coshocton, soon thereafter she boarded a train alone to meet him back in Texas. This mutual trust, optimism and love carried them through 62 years of marriage until Helen’s death in 2004.
Clay was a man of his time. Living through the Depression and World War II defined men as being responsible and sacrificing. They were not encouraged to share emotions publicly but to channel caring through action rather than words. As such, he was a businessman whose handshake was a contract and his promises were kept. He expressed his pride in his community through years of civic leadership and was a member of the Masonic Order and the Lion’s Club. He and Helen led many charity drives and fundraising for the school, park and fire department in Danville. Out of the public eye, more than one local family appreciated their personal generosity in tough times.
Baptized in a pond on the “home place,” he remained a lifelong member of the Tiverton Church of Christ. Like his father and his grandfather and a congregation founder, Alonzo, Clay was a church elder.
He is survived by his son, Stephen Spurgeon, residing in San Francisco and forever in his father’s heart.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; brothers, James and Merlin; and a sister, Thelma Crise Scott.
There will be no viewing hours, but all friends will be welcome at a brief graveside service Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m. in Mount Vernon Memorial Gardens. The Fischer Funeral Home in Danville is handling arrangements; http://www.fischerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers and in the spirit of Clay’s life, please consider donations to the Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District (Danville EMS), P.O. Box 526, Danville, OH 43014; Mount Vernon EMS, 200 W. Gambier St., Mount Vernon, OH 43050; or to Danville Schools, P.O. Box 30, Danville, OH 43014. Special appreciation goes to Clay’s caregivers at Touch of Grace and Ohio Eastern Star Home and to loyal estate executor and friend, Martha Billman.
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