Gunelda Sue Clayton, 77, a resident of Ashland, passed away on June 6, 2024, in Columbia.

Susi was born on September 1, 1946, in Perryville, Missouri, the daughter of John Lloyd and Bertes (Beardsley) Clayton.

Throughout her life, Susi nurtured a love for others, cherishing moments spent with family and friends, many of those friends becoming like family. Everyone who knew her would tell you Susi was a helper, a person who seemed to be called by someone or something to fix things no matter who it was that needed help or what the problem seemed to be, never once stopping to ask if the recipient deserved it. Susi believed if help was needed, and you were able, then you should do what you could. She felt, given the odds, eventually a day would come when everyone would need a little help, and in her words, since they crucified the last perfect person, she hoped no one asking about who deserved help.

Susi was especially fond of helping kids. Her children’s friends became Susi’s kids too. The high schoolers who worked for her became part of the family. If she knew a kid was hanging on the street too much, she found a way to draw the kid in; Susi had buried one child, and she didn’t want someone else to have to face that if she could help it. She never knew who she might find sleeping on the couch or floor, but that was ok, it meant they were safe.

Donna and Clay came home a lot to find other kids with their mom, eating, getting advice or their butt chewed for doing something foolish, and they let her, but mostly, it was because she made them feel loved and accepted, no matter what. When a single Mom had nowhere to leave her kid after school, that Mom knew her kid could walk to Susi’s and find French Fries, soda, and a place to do homework until she got off work. Susi knew the struggle; she had been a single mom too.

Susi loved to cook for people at her Café and she knew her customers well. In the mornings the waitress often just wrote a name on the ticket for Susi, and she would cook that customer’s breakfast, knowing exactly what they ate and how they liked it cooked. When families with kids came in, she would cook shaped pancakes, turtles, puppies, and kitties! Those kids would come in the kitchen, sit on the freezer, eat frozen blueberries, talk, and watch Susi cook until breakfast was ready.

There were times Susi would cook a full Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of summer because Gary Dean mentioned he had a craving, or she would bake chocolate cupcakes because Chad’s Mama used to make them for him and she had long ago passed away, or when she knew an older person wasn’t eating regularly or much, she would cook to tempt them and deliver it, no charge, just so they would eat. Susi had a way of making everyone feel special, like you were the most important person in the world, and to her, in those moments, you truly were.

Susi enjoyed reading, gardening, sewing, baking, cooking, and watching the Food Network. She owned and operated Susi’s Café from 1988 – 2002 in Ashland where she loved the interaction with her customers. She was also employed as a secretary for the State of Missouri Highway Department.

She will be sadly missed and forever remembered by her children, Donna Jo Prather-Rhoads (Kenneth) and Clayton “Clay” Prather (Kristen); brothers, John Clayton, Lloyd Clayton, and Charles Clayton; grandchildren, Isabella Rhoads, Adeline Rhoads and Hadley Prather, many beloved nieces and nephews, as well as many “bonus” kids and people she adopted, that adopted her as a mother and grandmother, Mama Susi.

She is reunited in peace with her parents, John and Bertes Clayton; daughter, Mary Angela Prather (July 1968); brothers, Kayo Freeman, Jack Freeman and Malcolm Clayton.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at Robinson-Yager Funeral Home with Pastor David Hartsfield officiating. A visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at the funeral home. Burial will follow the service at New Salem Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Lupus Foundation, c/o Robinson-Yager Funeral Home, PO Box 68, Ashland, MO 65010.

Robinson-Yager Funeral Home is honored to serve the Clayton Family.