Thank you for bringing us a little heaven
Almost 21 years ago, Joan Clayton marched into the Portales News-Tribune offices and pitched an idea for an inspirational column.
She’d write it weekly, she said, for free.
“I don’t write for money,” friends have heard her say many times since then. “I write for Jesus.”
Then-Publisher Lone Beasley did not know Clayton at the time, “but I took it on faith that she could do it,” he said.
She could do it, alright. Two decades later, she’s written eight books, more than 175 articles for multiple anthologies, 10 essays for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series ... and more than 1,000 weekly columns for the News-Tribune.
Clayton is announcing in her column today that she’s retiring from writing the weekly articles.
“I know in my heart that the time is right,” she reports. Of course she backed it up with Scripture: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
It’s been a difficult year for Clayton. She wrote about her trials last summer:
“I have recently lost my beloved husband and a beloved son. In spite of that they have made moments of love for me and they will always be in my heart. When I hear the cooing of a dove and the welcome of dripping rain against our window pane, I will think about Emmitt and Lance. I will see their photos and I will see the tenderness of their smile and the deep love that flows within them.”
At 85, she deserves a rest from the weekly pressures that come with a newspaper column.
But while we’re sad to know her words will not be regularly lifting our spirits anymore, we’re comforted in knowing she is embracing the changes in her life, just as she did when she transitioned from the elementary school classroom in 1993 to become a full-time writer.
“We needed a religion column,” remembered Beasley, now a newspaper publisher in Ada, Okla. He ended up with an inspirational staple for the paper, and a friend.
“I came to think of her as my own personal angel,” he said. “She would always write me little notes of encouragement, or send a Bible verse. She’s a great lady.”
That lady has continued to offer inspiration to PNT publishers and editors, and everyone else throughout Roosevelt County who has taken the time to be enlightened by her gentle words.
Many columns focused on her family, often when her three sons were little. Once, she wrote, they painted themselves. Unable to remove the paint from their hair, she tried to give them haircuts, but, “They couldn’t be still. Their haircuts looked like road maps. They wore their toboggan caps day and night for weeks in that record hot summer.”
And she loved to write about her 31 years teaching elementary school and told us about the memorabilia she saved. “Dear Mrs. Clayton,” one student wrote. “You are the best teacher in the world. I wish you were my mother.”
Every column since the first one, published May 21, 1993, was based on a biblical truth. Her mission was to help everyone find heaven.
May blessings surround you, Joan Clayton, as you start a new chapter in the life you’ve dedicated to the service of our Creator.
Thank you for your contribution to our newspaper and thank you for bringing us all a little heaven every week for nearly 21 years.