Maxine Clayton, a life member and charter member of the West Pasco Historical Society, died on April 24. She was 92 years old. She was a great supporter of many projects at our museum. Her husband Collie funded the printing of our 1975 hardcover history West Pasco’s Heritage.
Maxine Clayton was a Pasco County 4-H Foundation member and was named to the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. Each year she showed her support by purchasing at least one project animal raised by a 4-H member.
Collie Clayton, a former president of the Pasco County Fair Association, died in 1991. The Pasco County Agriculture Auditorium was renamed Clayton Hall in his honor.
The eulogy read at her memorial service follows:
Service for Maxine Clayton, May 17, 2016
We gather today to celebrate the life of Maxine Clayton, who we knew as a dear friend or family member. Maxine touched our hearts and was the example of what a caring, dedicated Christian should be.
I have spoken to many people to learn about Maxine’s story. There were many chapters in her life, a life well lived.
Maxine was born in raised in the Norwood Park area of Chicago. She and her brother Bud Merta moved to St. Petersburg with their parents in 1945, following other family members who had a home in St. Pete.
Maxine went to work as a receptionist in the ofﬁce of Dr. Bradley. It was there she met Caldwell Clayton, Collie to everyone. They dated for a time and then married in 1951.
Collie had purchased some land in Pasco county beginning in 1949, and they moved to the rural Hudson, Bayonet Point area and had a one bedroom white house on 52. They began ﬁrst raising beef cattle, and then switched to having a dairy, At one time they had 150-175 cows.
The nieces all remember going to stay with Aunt Maxine and Uncle Collie in the summer and milking the cows. Maxine told me that they had invented a new way to milk the cows that had been a true innovation at the time. She spoke of the 7 day a week work of the dairy and working with the hired men milking the cows.
As time went on she and Collie continued to buy land in the area In the 1960’s when the area was beginning to change from rural to housing, Maxine and Collie sold much of their land to a developer and the area became Beacon Woods and Beacon Woods East.
They retained 50 acres of woods where they lived in a double wide mobile home. This is where Maxine loved to feed the wild turkeys and watch the gopher tortoises and all the birds. She loved her quiet spot in the woods, just on the edge of suburbia.
They both became active in many civic organizations, Collie in the forefront, Maxine preferring to be in the background.
In those years they were very involved with everything related to the Pasco County Fair. Maxine was particularly involved in procuring items each year for the women’s building at the fair.
She was very involved in the Home Extension, and encouraging young people in 4 H.
They both enjoyed their work in support of the Pioneer Museum in Dade City.
Maxine and Collie never had any children but they were very involved in the lives of their nieces and nephews, and with other families as well, Diane Hiller speaks of Maxine and Collie being like parents to her and grandparents to her four children Others experienced the same as well.
They have memories of vacation when the Claytons took 5 children, then teenagers, on a multi-state trip, including going to Nashville to the Grand Old Opry.
In 1991 Collie had been working in a manufactured home business in Lake City, when he died suddenly of a heart attack at age 74, It was a shock to everyone and certainly for Maxine.
In her typical faithful fashion, Maxine continued on with her life, pursuing the things that she loved, building a life that continued their joint legacy of service to the community, and her own interests as well.
Maxine loved everything related to history, and it is reﬂected in her interests. She was involved in the Pasco County Historical Preservation Committee, and the Questers organization dedicated to preserving historic objects. She loved art and supported the exhibits that would be at the Pasco Hernando Community College Library.
Maxine was an avid reader and supported the library there at PHCC and the Pasco County Library System.
Maxine had an inquisitive mind and was always reading, sharing articles and items from books that she had read from a range of topics. We often had political discussions.
Maxine was devoted to her church, the Port Richey Community Church, until it closed and to the First United Methodist Church of New Port Richey. She was a Bible scholar, and a ﬁne Bible study teacher. She was active in our Wednesday Bible Study and her Wesley Sunday School Class.
She was active in United Methodist Women, and enjoyed her Lydia Circle friends. She attended the 8:30 service, and was a communion steward.
Her service included being the Peanut butter lady, giving extra gifts for our Food Pantry. She also supported many mission opportunities over the years. Vonnie said, “When Maxine saw a need she met it.”
Maxine‘s heart was always for others above herself.
When I first met her she was driving patients for the American Cancer Society to their doctors’ appointments.
She had been frustrated with the injuries and illness the last few years, as it interfered with her being able to live independently. Yet with both times in rehab, there was no complaining. She always asked me to pray for the staff there.
On my last visit with her in the hospital, her ﬁrst words were to ask about a member of the church who was ill. Maxine was always thinking of others.
She found a way to enjoy life at Windsor Woods, and enjoyed her apartment and the people there.
She was grateful for the care and support she received from her niece Sue and nephew Brad who cared for daily needs as she was in the nursing home. That family link was important to her. She has so looked forward to seeing Bud and his family for a visit as she had enjoyed making the trips to Washington.
At the end Maxine was very clear that she was ready to face death. “I had a talk with the Lord she told me and she said she was ready to go.” It was her decision to go the hospice house for her last days.
She told me what she wanted for her service. Most of all it was to be simple, reﬂecting her gracious, unassuming life. We all miss Maxine greatly.
Her life has been a gift and a testimony to love and service, reaching out to the neighbor in need. Her faith in God was the center of her life and guided all her steps.
May we too live as Maxine, with faith, dignity and humility.