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William Clay Bozarth lived a life of faith, family, and service. Clay was born on February 1, 1934, in rural Ripley County, Missouri to Andrew Jackson Bozarth and Annie Bozarth. Clay was the fifth of eight siblings and the second son. Clay grew up with three older sisters and three younger sisters. Later in life, Clay would remark about how those six women kept him in line when he was a child.
When Clay was a young teenager, his family moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he attended school through the eleventh grade. In 1951 and upon completing eleventh grade, Clay entered the labor force, working in carpentry for a year. In 1952, Clay joined the United States Navy. Clay served for four years, including a year afloat on the USS Taussig (DD-746) and a tour at Naval Base Guam. Clay completed his active-duty service in the summer of 1956 as a Damage Control Petty Officer Second Class, and received an honorable discharge in San Diego, California. A country boy at heart and missing home, Clay loaded up his car and drove back to Springfield to work in maintenance.
Unbeknownst to Clay, his younger sister Aletta had a plan for him. Soon after arriving back in Springfield, Clay visited Aletta at her job at Crown Drugstore. It was here that Aletta purposefully introduced Clay to a coworker, 18-year-old Wanda Conrad. Later in life, Wanda would often recount that she knew upon seeing Clay that “she was going to marry that boy.” Wanda was right, and Clay and she were married on August 5, 1957. And so began a lifelong love and partnership.
In 1962, Clay, Wanda, and their infant daughter, Ruby, moved to Berryville, Arkansas. During their time in Berryville, Clay and Wanda had two more children, Rose and Tony, and numerous businesses, including small engine repair, sheet metal work, heating and air installation, and beef and poultry farming. While Clay turned the wrenches and climbed in the attics, Wanda managed the business finances. They both fed the cattle and walked the chicken houses.
In 1977, the Bozarth family joined and began regularly attending the Berryville Church of Christ. Throughout the remainder of his life, Clay was a devoted member of the Church, serving as a deacon and a long-time elder. Clay and Wanda raised their children and grandchildren in the Church. As a church leader, Clay was always standing at the entrance both at the beginning and end of church service to exchange hugs, handshakes, and warm words with members and guests alike.
Clay was a shining example of leadership through action. His military service inspired his son and grandsons to serve in the military. He led at church and in the Berryville community as a long-time member of the Cattlemen’s Association. He was patient and kind. He would not hesitate to help those in need, and there was no end to the love and support he provided his family.
William Clay Bozarth left this world and rejoined his beautiful bride in heaven on Thursday, August 3, 2023, just in time for their sixty-sixth wedding anniversary. While we are so happy that Clay and Wanda are back together again, our hearts ache from the loss of our patriarch and a foundational rock in our lives.
Clay was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda; his parents, Andrew and Annie Bozarth; siblings Everett Bozarth, Ethel Cecil, Etta Nettles, Lucille White, and Jane Hodge; and his first-born daughter, Beverly Bozarth. Clay is survived by his children, Ruby Edwards, Rose Spencer, and Anthony Bozarth; three grandchildren, Andrew Bozarth, Joel Bozarth, and Emma Spencer; five great- grandchildren, Kayan Bozarth, Naomi Bozarth, Rhys Bozarth, William Bozarth, and Charleston Bozarth; and two siblings, Aletta Essary and Sue Watson.
Visitation for Clay will be Monday, August 7, 2023, from 6-8 PM at Smith Family Funeral Home in Green Forest. Celebration of Life service with military honors will be Tuesday, August 8 at 12:00 PM at Springfield National Cemetery in Springfield, MO.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a monetary donation to the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department, who helped Clay so much towards the end of his life. Donations can be mailed to 10479 Highway 21N, Berryville, Arkansas, 72616. Online condolences can be made at smithfamilyfuneralhome.net.