Thursday, July 21, 2005
Retired Judge, LAPD Veteran William R. Clay Dead at 85
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William R. Clay, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who practiced law while still on the force, died yesterday at age 85.
Clay retired from the bench in 1989 after nearly 20 years as a referee, commissioner, and judge, and subsequently worked as a private judge, mediator, and arbitrator.
A native of Phoenix, Clay came to Los Angeles in the 1930s, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School before attending Los Angeles Junior College. He joined the Army in 1940, serving in the Southwest Pacific Theater in World War II and earning several medals, including the Bronze Star.
Returning to Los Angeles after the war, he joined the LAPD in 1946 and rose to the rank of sergeant. He graduated from Southwestern University School of Law in 1956, was admitted to the State Bar in 1960, and practiced part-time before retiring from the police department in 1966.
He then joined the Public Defender’s Office for several months before going to the Los Angeles Neighborhood Legal Services Society in Watts as staff director and attorney, a post he held until June 1968, when he was named a fulltime Los Angeles Superior Court juvenile referee. He had previously sat as an as-needed referee.
The referee’s post led to an appointment as commissioner in 1970, and he was appointed to the Inglewood Municipal Court by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1973. Then-Governor Jerry Brown elevated him to Superior Court judge in October 1976.
As a Superior Court judge, Clay sat downtown and then in Pomona. He was sitting in criminal court in Compton in 1980 when he was assigned to the David V. Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center at the behest of the building’s namesake and first judge, who had just been appointed a federal judge.
Off the bench, Clay was active in the Lutheran Church, serving as a congregational president, and in the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and South Los Angeles Boys’
Club. He was a longtime member of the NAACP and the Urban League and a trustee of Centinela Hospital.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley Clay. His first wife, Jacqueline Banks Clay, died in 1977.
Services are set for next Tuesday at Angelus Funeral Home, on the 3700 block of Crenshaw Blvd., at 10 a.m.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company