Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tribute to an Unsung Wittenberg Hero

Wittenberg lost a dear friend. Joe Clayton, 47, a long-time supporter of Tiger athletics, passed away last night. He will be missed.

Wittenberg Sports Information Director Ryan Maurer wrote the following tribute to Joe today:
Dear Wittenberg community members,

For most of you, the name Joe Clayton may not mean much - if you ever heard it at all. But without him and the more than 25 years of dedicated service he gave his hometown university, your experience following Wittenberg athletics might have been something a little less. I know mine would have been, which is why I was so sad to hear the news of his passing last night at the age of 47.

Joe was a Wittenberg Tiger to the core, and he earned his stripes with dedicated service as a statistician for a variety of the university's athletics teams. As far as I know, he didn't miss a home Wittenberg football game for nearly 30 years - not sitting in the stands as a fan, but sitting in the pressbox as the lead scorekeeper. In recent years, he volunteered to be our sports information representative at road games as well, tracking participation, pitching in to help with statistics and delivering stats to our coaches at halftime and the end of games. He was a walking encyclopedia of Wittenberg football knowledge, a memory bank I never could quite tap enough.

He was almost as consistent in his attendance of Wittenberg basketball games, both men and women. Despite missing three years while working in Dayton, I would estimate that Joe tracked statistics at about 600 home basketball games over the years. In recent years, he also helped with stats when we hosted NCAC and NCAA volleyball tournaments and had even offered his services at men's and women's soccer games. And there was a baseball season when we didn't have anyone to keep the scorebook, so he pinch-hit at the last minute. Ably, I might add.

Finally, last year he joined the Athletics Hall of Honor committee. He saw it as an honor, and he took his responsibilities very seriously.

He did all of these things, outside of his full-time jobs and dedication to the local Catholic church...FOR FREE. I insisted that we arrange payment for a few things, like his help with the volleyball tournaments and the chilly nights in the baseball dugout. But it was never anything he asked for, or expected. He just loved sports, and he loved Wittenberg.

It's people like Joe - unsung heroes - who make Wittenberg special. I just felt that he should be saluted.
Arrangements: Visitation from 4-7 p.m. Friday in the Conroy Funeral Home. Mass 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Church.

Springfield News-Sun Sports Blog - posting about Joe.

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