A tribute to
Gervas (Charles Robert) Clay
16.04.1907 - 18.04.2009
Gervas's engagement photograph, August 1939
Gervas Clay moved into Elliscombe House Nursing Home about four years ago.
Towards the end of 2007, about six months after his well-attended 100th birthday party, he was diagnosed with senile dementia.
On the Wednesday following Easter 2009, he apparently consumed an entire box of Belgian chocolates!
The following day, Thursday 16th April, his 102nd birthday, seven of us called in to see Dad in his room at tea-time, bearing a decorated cake, with candles.
We serenaded him, and had a good "party" for an hour and a half - and he slept soundly all through it, despite attempts to rouse him !
He slept through that Thursday; he slept through Friday; he slept through most of Saturday, and was certified dead on Saturday afternoon about five o'clock, never having woken up.
Death by chocolate! WHAT a way to go !
A merciful release - for us all, particularly for him.
We had a private family cremation at Yeovil at 3 p.m. on Monday 11th May 2009, and this was followed by a "public" thanksgiving service and commital at North Cheriton at 3 p.m. on Friday, 15th May attended by over 50 family and friends. He had out-lived most of his contemporaries.
DEAD FLOWERS BY REQUEST
So when I come to die
Throw no fresh flowers to me;
I have loved them in my life,
Bury them not that be.
But take some old dead flowers
Whose fragrance has gone on,
That they and I may cross together
The unknown Rubicon.
12 July, 1932.
He often reminded me of this over his last few years....
Gervas was educated at Furzie Close (now Edinburgh House School, in New Milton), Lancing and New College, Oxford, and was an accomplished track athlete, particularly a hurdler, and a leading light in the Achilles Club.
Gervas went out to Northern Rhodesia in 1930, in HMOCS. In 1960, as Her Majesty's Resident Commissioner in Barotseland, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother stayed with him for four days.
He then retired to became Director of the Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, now the National Museum of Zambia. His book, "Your friend, Lewanika" was published in 1965 by Chatto, after his return to England.
Gervas was a keen philatelist, and a leading light in The Rhodesian Study Circle. He was also a keen shot, and only gave up at the end of the season before his 87th birthday.
After retirement, Gervas went through the Gilwell training program, and was appointed Scout County Commissioner for Somerset.
A keen bridge player, he was also very interested in Family History. Some 18 years ago, he telephoned me to say, "My research into the Family show that every son has outlived his father. Today I am older than my father was when he died - and I'm setting you a moving target !".
No, I DON'T want to live to his age. For the last twenty-odd years, his stock answer to "Hello, Dad - how are you?" has been "Surviving."
A more comprehensive CV was read at the Thanksgiving Service - have a look under the "R.I.P. & C.V." Tab on the left of your screen.
From Lancing College School Report for Summer Term, 1926:-
Latin - His success [in the Exam] is evidence that the Age of Miracles is still with us; I wish I could claim the credit for myself, but I cannot regard it as the result of anything but Divine intervention.
Gervas aged 79, on his 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1986
If you should have any "anecdotes" about Gervas, we would be most pleased to receive them, either through the GUESTBOOK page or the GIVE FEEDBACK page.
For genealogists, various of our Family Trees are on the InterNet - have look on the LINKS page.
The photographs on this WebSite are scanned from ScrapBooks, and are 550 pixels wide; I have high-resolution versions - and an awful lot more besides!
If you want it, just ask.
Generally, the first characters of the picture title is the date in yearmonthday format, e.g. 19591225 is ChristmasDay 1959.
Feel free to copy anything you want, but an attribution would be courteous. Copyright remains ours (c) 2009.
if you see copyrighted material that shouldn't be here, please let me know and I'll remove it.