NEW SALEM- John Michael Clayton peacefully passed away in hospice care on September 6, 2021. He was 72 years old.
John, the son of Donald and Belva Clayton, grew up in Burlington, Iowa. He served in the Vietnam War in the U.S. Army and attended college at the University of Iowa, before moving to Massachusetts, where he met his wife of 37 years, Jeanne Wormwood Clayton.
John is survived by his wife, Jeanne, his two sisters: Donna Bowles of Hadley, MA, and Ann Baker and her husband James of Brighton, IL, and his beloved nephews and nieces: Michael Bowles and his wife Miyuki; Christopher Bowles, his wife Kellie and their children Theodore and Sadie; Jamie Greeling, her husband Ben and their daughter Molly; and Mattie Baker and her husband Umair.
John was a self-employed carpenter. His skill, vision and artistry with his craft benefited many throughout the years. He skillfully and creatively renovated their historical home, repurposing items from when the building was the town store built in 1877 - a home John and Jeanne lived in all their married lives.
John had Parkinson’s disease for over 20 years, but he was able to lead an active and fulfilling life throughout that time.
John loved to travel, and while he and Jeanne enjoyed many destinations throughout the United States and Europe, John’s favorite was Italy, where there was no such thing as too much pizza, pastry, or gelato - his inspiration for their basement Italian grotto, complete with working fountain and dumbwaiter.
John was always active – whether he was cycling (in 2001 he completed the weeklong 500-mile Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) or boating (for a number of years he sailed a “catamarak” -- a boat he customized by replacing one of the pontoons of a catamaran with a kayak for Jeanne to sit in and paddle when the wind died down), he was always on the move.
John enjoyed a number of games, but his favorites were those from his Midwestern roots - cards and cornhole.
His generous friendship, witty humor, and indomitable spirit will be greatly missed by his family and many, many dear friends.
A graveside service will be held on Sunday, September 19 at 1:00 PM at the New Salem Center Cemetery, South Main Street, New Salem.
Following the graveside service from 1:30 to 4:30, family and friends are invited to an outdoor gathering at the Clayton home at 4 South Main Street, New Salem. Feel free to bring food or drinks to share at the gathering.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in John’s name can be made to the Friends of the New Salem Library online at
or by mail at P.O. Box 5, New Salem, MA 01355.
Witty’s Funeral Home in Orange is assisting the family.
Guest book and directions online at WWW.WITTYFUNERALHOME.COM
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John M. Clayton, please visit our floral store.