Clayton D. Bushnell, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend passed from this lifetime to eternity on Saturday, November 29, at 90 years of age. Eternity is blessed to have his intelligence, kindness, loving and generous spirit added to the noble there. Clayton was born in Meadow, Utah, on Sept. 27, 1924, to Edward Dee and Myrtle Bracken Bushnell.
He grew up in Provo and spent summers in Meadow, Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young High in May 1943 and enlisted in the Army. After testing in the top 10 percent for recruits, he was assigned to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied engineering in the A.S.T.P. officer-training program. To his disappointment the program ended due to the need for manpower in the infantry. He was shipped out July 24, 1944, to the Asian pacific theater. During World War II, he fought for one year on the front lines in the Philippines and the battle of Okinawa. He was in the first wave of infantry during the invasion of Okinawa where he earned five Battle Stars, the Arrowhead and the Purple Heart for wounds received on April 28, 1944.
He fell in love with and married Mary Louise Fisher in 1952, in the St. George Temple. Together they happily welcomed seven beautiful children into their home. They felt deep heartache at the loss of three of their children under the age of four due to a congenital heart defect. Clay later wrote that his children and grandchildren were his source of pure joy. Clay and Mary were married 30 years before Mary passed away in 1982. After two years he discovered that he could fall in love again and he married Gloria Peterson Harris in 1984. Clay and Gloria were also married for 30 years. Clay taught us the importance of family and the value of each person.
To quote Clay, “What do I count as my greatest blessings? My children and grandchildren are my greatest treasures.”
Clay had a remarkable career as an aerospace engineer and was known in the space and defense industry as one of the top innovators and problem solvers. He was one of the engineers for the first lunar exploration. He was project manager for the Conestoga Rocket launch, which was the first privately funded rocket launched in the United States. He was sought after for his experience in rocket launch operations, deep space exploration spacecraft and guidance systems, jet reaction control systems for satellites, and for his ability to solve complex and challenging problems. He was a successful part of the Star Wars anti-missile program – the Kinetic Kill Vehicle -which is now part of the Smithsonian collection.
Despite his amazing career, Clay loved his family most. He wanted his family to know that he prayed for them each night. We loved him so much, but the incredible thing was how much he loved us! Grandpa had a huge heart! He was a great example of how to love–with all your heart. Clay’s legacy of love and humor will continue on in the lives of his family and friends whom he touched so greatly. He will be missed by those of us who were privileged to know him on this earth. We know that there was a grand reunion in the spirit world upon his passing.
The family would like to thank all of those who provided Clay with medical and personal care prior to his passing, especially Dr. Claude Warner and Sarah and the VA staff, who were so kind to him. Clay is survived by his wife, Gloria, children Janni (Mike) Salisbury, Diane Hanks, Glenn (Annette) Bushnell, Bev (Richard) Whiting, stepchildren; Julie (Geoff) Woods, Laurie (Kent) Cannon, Dale (Chris) Harris and Dave Harris, 28 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Mary; children; Edward, Cady Lynn and Douglas.
- Funeral services will be held on Friday, Dec. 5, at noon at the Quail Valley Ward, 1762 S. River Road, St. George, Utah.
- A viewing will be held on Friday, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. prior to the services at the chapel, with an additional viewing on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. at Wasatch Lawn Chapel.
- Interment will be at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery, 3401 South Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at the Spilsbury Mortuary website. Arrangements have been made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, telephone, 435-673-2454 .