Donzel Clayton "Clay" Wildey, a former human resources director who became a co-owner of The Nut Farm and Creamery at Green Spring Station in Brooklandville, died June 13 of pneumonia at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
The longtime Rodgers Forge resident was 64.
The son of a Methodist minister and a homemaker, Mr. Wildey — who never used his first name, according to his wife of 43 years, the former Marjorie Cole — was born in Lewes, Del.
Eventually, his family settled in Timonium, and Mr. Wildey graduated in 1965 from Dulaney High School. He attended what is now Towson University.
Mr. Wildey went to work at the Western Electric Co. plant in Cockeysville in the late 1960s, and while working there, met and fell in love with his future wife, who was a secretary.
From 1970 to 1995, he was director of human resources for Fair Lanes Bowling Center at corporate headquarters in Catonsville.
After the business was purchased by AMS in 1995, Clay was offered a job in Richmond, Va., and he said, "Thanks, but no thanks," said Mrs. Wildey.
The couple were casting about for a business, and The Nut Farm and Creamery, which had been established in 1978 by Chuck and Ethel Berry, was for sale.
"A broker suggested it, and even though we had no idea what we were doing, we bought it," said Mrs. Wildey with a laugh. "He was good at selling, and I was good at buying."
The store, which was once known just for nuts and candy, expanded its inventory after its purchase by the Wildeys.
"We went to a lot of food shows, and we try to sell a lot of local products," said Mrs. Wildey.
In addition to its gift baskets, Naron Candy, snacks and more than 70 variety of nuts, the store also sells trail mixes, dried fruits, salsa, gourmet sauces, dipping oils, popcorn, gourmet coffees and teas.
In 2009, the couple added a weekly Saturday farmers' market that is held in the Green Spring Station parking lot.
"Clay was a mellow guy and a gentle soul who was very kind to everyone. He was patient with everyone, and they loved him," his wife said.
The couple worked in the store six days a week.
"He just liked selling and being with people. He really enjoyed it, and I don't think he would've stuck with it all these years if he didn't like it," said Mrs. Wildey.
Hunt Valley residents Stanley and Janet Kantor have been customers for more than 30 years.
"They made our Saturday afternoons very special. Clay was a wonderful man with a wonderful smile and a great sense of humor. He was just a delight to be with," said Mrs. Kantor.
"I liked his unsalted mixed almonds and cashews, while my husband liked the chocolate almond bark. He thought Clay had the best," said Mrs. Kantor.
"We also sent gift baskets from there," she said. "We really enjoyed going there and are just devastated by Clay's loss."
"I used to tease him about his dark-chocolate caramels and marshmallows, " said Dr. Sheldon D. Weinstock, another longtime customer who lives in Cross Keys.
"I sent a lot of gifts to people from the store, and you could always depend on him. He worked with you and was always very pleasant," said Dr. Weinstock.
"He was totally trustworthy. I'd give him an order by phone, and he'd send me a bill. He also made sure that it got there on time," he said. "When he lost his hair, I knew he was sick, but he never talked about it and never complained."
Mr. Wildey worked in the store the day before he entered the hospital, his wife said.
For a number of years, the couple owned a second home in Bethany Beach, Del., which they later sold.
"We purchased a one-bedroom cabin on the Susquehanna River near Delta, Pa., which we remodeled into a two-bedroom house. We redid the whole place," said Mrs. Wildey. "Clay loved it. He liked to swim, canoe, fish, and relax and read there."
The couple also enjoyed entertaining family and friends at their weekend retreat.
The 43-year resident of Stanmore Road in Rodgers Forge was an avid sports fan, and as a member of the Towson Recreation Council, he coached his three sons in football, soccer and baseball.
A celebration of Mr. Wildey's life will be held at 2 p.m. July 1 at Woodbrook Baptist Church, 25 Stevenson Lane, Woodbrook.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Wildey is survived by three sons, David C. Wildey of Crofton, Michael D. Wildey of Centreville, Va., and T. Ian Wildey of Wayne, Pa.; his mother, Ellen Wildey of Wilmington, Del.; a brother, Paul Wildey of Chesapeake City; a sister, Sue Ellen Osborn of Wilmington, Del.; and six grandchildren.