B. Joe Clayton age 84 of Knoxville, Tennessee passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and son. He is preceded in death by his wife Dot Clayton and his father and mother Cratus Clayton and Ruth Clayton. Joe is survived by sons Richard Joseph Clayton and wife Victoria, Mark Eads Clayton and wife Ashley, daughter Deborah JoAnne Justus and husband Randy, grandchildren Jessica Clayton, Christina Clayton Sullivan and husband Josh and Britney Justus. He is also survived by his brother James L. Clayton and wife Michell, as well as nieces, nephews and many other family members.
Joe was born and raised in Finger, Tennessee to a family of sharecroppers, and quickly realized he wanted a different life for himself. He left farm life in his late teens and decided to attend Draughon’s Business College in Nashville where he graduated with a business degree. Joe wanted to further his education so he enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University and then later enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. While working his way through college, he worked for a local television and radio station. A young listener named Dorothy called in one evening requesting a song. Joe thought she had the sweetest voice and lucky for him she called back the next night. It was not long after that Dorothy became his lifelong sweetheart and wife of 53 years.
With Dorothy by his side, Joe ventured into his career alongside his brother, Jim. Joe was instrumental in helping Jim with the creation of the many Clayton organizations. Joe was president of Clayton Automotive, Clayton Volvo, and was the co-founder of Mercedes Benz of Columbus in Georgia. He was also the co-founder of Clayton Homes and Vanderbilt Mortgage with his brother Jim. In addition, Joe was the president of the Lincoln-Mercury Dealer Council and Volvo Dealer Council. He served as president and chairman of the Tennessee Automotive Association, and served on the boards of Clayton Homes, Clayton Bank, First Horizon Bank, and the YMCA among other notable accomplishments.
Joe was a businessman and entrepreneur as he had several businesses and ventures in and out of Knoxville. He always enjoyed putting a deal together whether it was with a customer, a partner or even with his kids. But of all his business partners and ventures none were greater than the ones he and his brother and best friend Jim Clayton shared together. These partnerships spanned an uninterrupted and amazing 63 years side by side.
Joe had many passions but flying was very near and dear to his heart as he was an avid pilot. Joe loved to fly his family to their favorite vacation spots. Although Joe owned many airplanes over the years the one he loved the most was his latest KingAir, which he recently sold. When he wasn’t flying, you could find Joe playing golf with his family especially his granddaughters and closest friends. Joe’s best friendships developed over many rounds of golf, between the tee box and the flag stick, most of which took place at his favorite getaway spot, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. While vacationing there he enjoyed waking up early in the mornings to take a long walks on the beach to capture photos of the sunrises and coming back in the evenings for another long walk to capture photos of the sunsets.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The First Tee of Greater Knoxville and the Boys and Girls Club of Knoxville. The Clayton family will receive friends Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at Berry Highland Memorial, 5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37919. Due to Covid-19 the graveside service will be private for family and extended family. There will be a public Celebration of Life held at a later date. Friends may leave their thoughts and memories at www.berryhighlandmemorial.com