Eddie Clay, a visionary Hot Springs man, passes away - KOTA Territory News

Eddie Clay, a visionary Hot Springs man, passes away

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Charles "Eddie" Clay Charles "Eddie" Clay
Eddie Clay was a volunteer for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society. Eddie Clay was a volunteer for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society.
Eddy Clay helped turn the Hot Springs Mammoth Site into a world-class research center. Eddy Clay helped turn the Hot Springs Mammoth Site into a world-class research center.

Charles "Eddie" Clay, who for decades has provided a vision for Hot Springs and the southern hills, has died.

Clay died Thursday morning, Oct. 4, a day after suffering a heart attack. He was 90 years old. Clay's funeral service will be Monday, 10 a.m., in the Mueller Center, Hot Springs.

Earlier this year, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs described Clay and his "enormous impact" on South Dakota. "People who are visionary don't come around very often – they work hard to benefit others and are unselfish in their ways," the site stated.

Clay was instrumental in launching the Mammoth site into the national and international spotlight, serving than 30 years on the Mammoth Site board of directors. One of Clay's visions for the Mammoth Site was to see it serve as a world-class science center. When the site established a legacy fund in Clay's name, he said he was "extremely proud of how the Mammoth Site has grown from the discovery in 1974 to become the world-recognized institution it is today."

Eddie Clay served in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Clay came to South Dakota during World War II, serving at Rapid City Army Air Base (now Ellsworth Air Force Base). During that time, he met and married Clara May Hagen of Hot Springs. After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II and then the Korean War, he returned to settle the family in Hot Springs.

The Clays owned Fall River Abstract, a real estate title company, for 43 years. From 1967 to 1974, Clay represented Fall River County in the state House of Representatives.  In 1974, Clay was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

He was also extremely active in the Masons for 50 years; and he was a volunteer for the Mount Rushmore Society as well as a champion for public television across the state.

In 2007, Clay was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, located in Chamberlain.

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