I woke up Saturday morning at one of Missouri’s beautiful state parks and discovered a true friend, Clay Austin, had passed away on Friday.

Bruce Wallace

That loss changes how you look at the beauty of the trails, woods and scenic vistas of Harry Truman Reservoir.

Clay Austin was a life-long educator, tireless volunteer and a real friend. The kind of friend who would do things for people without being asked to make himself feel useful. The kind of friend who would listen, without judgement, and be supportive – whether your needs were monumental or merely seemed that way.

He was also the kind of friend who would show up to your office with a small set of tools – selected from a much larger set, I’m sure – to fix the Journal’s screen door. Not because he didn’t think we could fix it on our own, or because he wanted to show us up with his handyman skills, but because he was a friend. I think Clay might have been the only person in Boone County disappointed when the Journal’s new screen door was installed this past spring.

Clay Austin was a friend to any kid he ever had in a classroom. He was a grandfather incredibly proud of his grandchildren, but he had as many stories about academics as he did soccer or other activties.

With his “aw shucks” demeanor and self-deprecating humor, you would not immediately recognize how smart Clay really was. He promoted the fact that he did not want to be a computer maestro, but he recognized that his grandchildren needed to be proficient. He also knew how necessary it was for them to be just as proficient with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.

Clay Austin was the kind of friend who put his big hand on my shoulder and said he would pray for me and my family when my father, then my mother passed away. Knowing that I would be out of town for a few days, he was willing to do whatever necessary at this newspaper in my absence. I doubt his wife, Brenda, or members of his family knew of that moment simply because he was from that age and time that men did not go and tell everyone the good deeds they did each day.

Clay Austin was a friend to anyone he knew for five minutes or less. He leaves a legacy of education, community work, and positive attitude.

When you say that you moved to Ashland for its small-town attitudes and its good schools and community good-feeling – you were talking about Clay Austin – he’s one of the men who made Ashland what it is. I am lucky to have known him.


This week’s news includes a Board of Adjustment meeting for the sake of approving – or disapproving – a resident keeping a couple of goats in her yard inside the Ashland city limits.

First we had the great chicken debate a few years ago, now a special meeting for goats?

What’s next?

A resident in West Oaks wants to keep a dairy cow in the backyard? A resident on Meadowmere wants to keep a pig on the premises?

I guess there is no other way than to look at this as good, small town fun. Unless your neighbor has a rooster who wakes up earlier than you.

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