Robert Edward Clay Jr.

Published 3:21 pm Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Robert Edward Clay Jr., a native and lifelong resident of Smithfield, died Jan. 15, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lucy Langhorne Gwaltney Clay, who was his kindergarten sweetheart.  He was born on July 8, 1938 and was the son of the late Robert Edward Clay and Rosa Lee Johnson Clay.  In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons, Robert Edward Clay III and wife Laurie, Howard Gwaltney Clay and his wife Leigh Anne; daughter, Katherine Langhorne Clay Willis and husband Ros; a sister, Claire Clay Amott, six grandchildren, one great grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

An honor graduate of Smithfield High School in 1956, Mr. Clay entered Virginia Military Institute and graduated in 1960 with a degree in civil engineering.  In 1962 he received an MBA from the Darden Graduate Business School at the University of Virginia.  After school, he served two years with the United States Army. Returning to Smithfield, Mr. Clay joined his father as owner of Clay Insurance Agency from which he retired after 42 years.  He was also active until his death as President of Gwaltney Realty Corporation.  During his years in Smithfield, he enjoyed and felt privileged to serve on various boards, both public and private.  

A lifelong member of Trinity United Methodist Church, he served as a member and past chairman of its Board.  Mr. Clay was a charter member of the Smithfield Kiwanis Club, a member of George F. Dashiell Post 49 American Legion, past member of the Smithfield Rotary Club, past president and member of Smithfield Chamber of Commerce, a member of the boards of the Bank of Smithfield, Isle of Wight Academy and Historic Ivy Hill Cemetery.  He was a long-time member of the James River Country Club. 

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A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 11 a.m. at the Ivy Hill Cemetery.  The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department or Ivy Hill Cemetery.  Online condolences may be registered at