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Rev. Willard L. Clayton, a pastor 42 years


The Rev. Willard L. Clayton, pastor emeritus of Macedonia Baptist Church, died Sunday at the Howard Park Avenue home of a daughter after a stroke. He lived on Fremont Avenue, half a block from the church.

Services for Mr. Clayton, who was 94, were being held today at the church at Lafayette and Fremont avenues.

He retired and was named pastor emeritus in 1987 after 42 years as pastor.

The minister was a former representative of the National Baptist Convention of the United States of America in the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches. He also was active in the National Council of Christians and Jews.

The native of Oldhams Cross roads, Va., earned bachelor's degrees from both the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., and Gordon College in Boston. He received a master's degree from the Gordon Divinity School in Boston and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Virginia Seminary.

He was ordained in 1926 at the Union Baptist Church in Malden, Mass., which he served as pastor for nearly 20 years before coming to Baltimore -- a move he at first was reluctant to make because the city's schools were segregated.

Long active in the civil rights movement nationally, he made a 1952 appearance before Baltimore's Board of Estimates to protest the shortage of books in black schools and described a practice of sending them used books from white schools.

He demonstrated in the 1960s against segregation in Baltimore restaurants and at Gwynn Oak Park, where he was arrested along with other religious leaders. He took part in the 1963 March on Washington.

Mr. Clayton counseled students and provided them with financial support, both from donors he recruited and from his own pocket.

He was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

His wife, the former Evelyn Frances Morrison, died in 1967.

He is survived by two daughters, Carlethea I. Johnson and Colyn H. Harrington, both of Baltimore; a son, Willard L. Clayton Jr., also of Baltimore; a sister, Mabel Tate of Ambler, Pa.; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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