What a privilege to have had a part in recognizing a great South Dakotan! Charles "Eddie" Clay of Hot Springs was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on September 8, 2007 in Chamberlain. These are a few photographs from the event. Click on each picture to see a larger image. Thanks for visiting this site. --Larry Miller, Spearfish, SD
NOTE: We regret to report that Eddie Clay passed away on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at the age of 90. We plan to retain this gallery as a tribute. As you read through these captions, you'll learn more about this extraordinary man.
Eddie and Clara Clay with those family members who were able to attend the 2007 Hall of Fame ceremonies at Chamberlain. In front (l-to-r): granddaughter Meredith Williams, holding her daughter, Ella; Eddie Clay; Clara Clay; granddaughter Suzannah Bagwell; in the middle is daughter Bobbi Kennedy and her son, Joe Kennedy. In the back row are: nephew Dale Clay; Jim and Alana Axe (Alana is a niece to Eddie and Clara); Eran Bagwell (Suzannah's daughter); and Katie Kennedy, granddaughter to Eddie and Clara. I hope I have all the relationships correct. A delightful family!
Don't forget....you can see a larger image by clicking on each photograph.
The South Dakota Hall of Fame is headquartered in Chamberlain, along the shores of the Missouri River.
This posting focuses on my good friend, Eddie Clay. When you're finished here, you may want to learn more about other inductees. You'll find information and photographs in our SD Hall of Fame Gallery
Eddie was born in Missouri, raised in Iowa, but adopted South Dakota as his new home after assignment to Ellsworth Air Force Base in the 1940s.
Eddie joined the Air Force after graduation from Eldora (IA) High School in 1941. He served with the 8th Air Force in the United States and Pacific Theater until 1945. While stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, he visited Hot Springs, met and married the love of his life, Clara May Hagen Clay. He later served in the Korean War with the 301st Logistical Command, and Military Intelligence at Fort Hood, Texas from 1950-52.
Eddie became deeply involved in the Hot Springs community and has been an active Mason for more than 50 years, serving as the South Dakota Grand Master of Masons (1972) and served for many years as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Masonic Grand Lodge of South Dakota.
A true visionary, Eddie was among the handful of people who saw real value in the accidental discovery of a mammoth sinkhole on the edge of Hot Springs. Since 1984, he has served as the Mammoth Site president and played a key role in helping the site become a world-class research facility and a popular tourist site. Here, he is shown some years ago sharing his enthusiasm with his granddaughters.
For nearly two decades, Eddie served as a volunteer for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society. In 1988 he became a Director and continued until 2005, when he was granted emeritus status. Under his leadership as President of the society, a $60 million plan for redesigned visitor facilities at Mount Rushmore was transformed from dreams and drawings to regal columns of granite and gleaming modern facilities that now host nearly three million visitors each year. This is Eddie, Bobbi and Clara during a visit to Mount Rushmore.
During a morning gathering at the beautiful Cedar Shore Resort across the Missouri River from Chamberlain, Hall of Fame inductees met with the media and visitors, sharing perspectives of South Dakota and its importance in their lives.
Eddie told of his love affair with South Dakota and didn't miss the opportunity to promote the Mammoth Site at Hot Springs.
Many of the inductees revealed that they "didn't have a clue" that they had been nominated for the Hall of Fame. Bobbi and I worked clandestinely to submit Eddie's nomination with all the information necessary -- but without tipping our hand in a way that Eddie would learn about it. I think we largely succeeded.