(Cherryl) Clay Dickerson, age 75, of Azalea, Oregon, passed away last Sunday night September 15, 2019 near his home en route to the hospital. Clay was born in Vineburg, CA July 17, 1944, first child to Clayton & Lula Belle Dickerson.
They Moved to Hugo, OR in November 1945 where they bought a 40-acre ranch (later expanded to near 90 acres) on Three Pines Rd. and extended their family with the additions of siblings Darryl and Charlyn. Clay attended Hugo elementary school through 8th grade before continuing on to Grants Pass High School. When not in school, most of the rest of his childhood days were spent helping his father on the farm. The little bit of free time he may have had was largely spent in the woods exploring and hunting, unknowingly setting the stage for his future.
After graduating high school, Clay started working for the Oregon Department of Forestry in the summer of 1962 as a seasonal wild land firefighter. Initially the job was a means for him to raise money for a car intended to provide some independence from the family farm and later for college. After his first real fire, he was hooked. Almost like an addiction, Clay was pulled towards fire fighting over the next few years and ever seeking more knowledge of fire science and forestry. After two academically difficult years at Southern Oregon College in Ashland, OR (now SOU), he enrolled at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR in 1965, seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Forest Management.
Upon receiving his degree in 1966, Clay moved his new wife and family to Astoria, OR for his new career with ODF as a Reforestation/ Rehab Forester and then later Coos Bay, OR Timber Sales Forester.
Shortly following the death of his father, Clay moved the family back to Hugo in 1976 to take over maintaining the family farm and transferred back to the Grants Pass ODF office as a State Lands Unit Forester for SW Oregon. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1999 completing a nearly 38 year legacy with the forestry department.
Clay’s mother passed in November 2000 which resulted in the sale of the family farm and ultimately prompted Clay and his wife Judy to purchase ranch property on Quines Creek Road in Azalea, OR to enable them to continue raising cattle.
Clay was a family man, Forester, Rancher usually driven by the needs of others. His love of the forest continued after retirement by educating others and as a consultant in forest practices. He also became an author this year when he published a book of memoirs, "Fire At My Feet," in January 2019 revolving around his career with the state Forestry and wildland firefighting.
Clay is survived by his wife Judy (Pursell) Dickerson, brother Daryl Dickerson, sister Charlyn Witcher, three children: Karren McGuire, Amanda Franklet, Eric Dickerson, and six grandchildren.
Private services were held Friday at Hawthorne Memorial Gardens by Hull & Hull Funeral Directors. A celebration of life will be held Saturday 9/28 at 2-5 PM at the Glendale High School Multi-Purpose room. 10598 Azalea-glen Road, Glendale, OR.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation at wffoundation
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Clay's name to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at www.wffoundation.org