Col. John W. Clayborne
November 14, 1927 – November 28, 2019
Col. John W. Clayborne, 92, of Crozet, VA, passed away on November 28, 2019. Born November 14, 1927, to the late John William and Donnie McGraw Clayborne in Tipple, West Virginia. John graduated in 1944 from Mullens High School. Following twenty-six years of distinguished active duty service in the United States Marine Corps, he retired with the rank of Colonel. He joined the Marine Corps at age 16 during World War II, motivated to serve in honor of the loss of a friend killed in action on the Island of Guam. After World War II, Colonel Clayborne remained on active duty serving in combat assignments in the Republic of Korea and the Republic of South Viet Nam. He retired from active duty in 1977, but as friends and family can attest, he was a Marine until the day of his passing.
During Colonel Clayborne’s career, his exemplary service was recognized on numerous occasions. His personal awards include the Legion of Merit, campaign medals for service in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam, and numerous unit medals and citations. After serving overseas he was an ROTC student and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Idaho in 1951. He was a Lifetime member of United States Military Liaison Mission Potsdam and Life member of the Marine Corps Tankers Association.
At their 53rd high school reunion, John reconnected with his high school classmate, Nancy. They married and lived in Mullens WV. John was a voracious reader throughout his life and had a tremendous vocabulary. Fluent in Russian and German, he enjoyed teaching phrases and telling stories about his exploits in Moscow. He was well known for having his silver punchbowl full of "The Orange Thing" for many get togethers with his 1944 classmates. Throughout his life, Colonel Clayborne, ever the Marine, maintained his fitness level, earning the nickname "Iron Man". He generously contributed throughout his life to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, flew the American and Marine Corps flags, enjoyed his daily crossword puzzles, word jumble and rarely missed Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. A passionate gardener and carpenter, John persisted in his efforts to defeat the groundhogs, raccoons and squirrels who devoured much of his garden's bounty, finally raising the white flag to them for the first and only time in his life. In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by wife Rowena Cozort Clayborne, sister Iris Clayborne, sister Billie Liles, sister Joyce Philyaw, sister Susie McGraw, and brother O.J. Clayborne John is survived by his wife, Nancy Hughes Clayborne, sons John C. Clayborne and wife Susan of Richmond Virginia, and William "Bill" J. and Karen Clayborne of Meriden Connecticut, granddaughter Jessica Norland and husband Johan and 2 great-grandchildren, Amelia and Eli of Meriden Connecticut, daughter Maura Ivey and grandchildren Amanda, Ashley, Richard and Michael Ivey of Augusta Georgia, sister Edith Robertson of Florence South Carolina, step-daughters Jennifer and husband Jim Rice of Nellysford Virginia, Jill and husband Keith Wall of West Jefferson North Carolina, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren Jackson and Jennings Rice of Los Angeles California, Eric, Chelsea, Wilder and Ever Wall of Laurel Maryland and Nathan and Kathleen Wall of Raleigh North Carolina.
A private family celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
Donations may be made in his name to the National Museum of the Marine Corps or the Marine's Toys for Tots Campaign.