Mary E. Clay, 70, of Virginia Beach, Va. died peacefully on Jan. 31 surrounded by love and God's grace. Born in Alexandria, Va., and raised in Pensacola, Fla., she is preceded in death by her mother, Nell Hardy Avery and her father, James Avery. Mary was married to Henry L. Clay III in 1965 in Pensacola, Fla. Through his service in the Navy, Mary and Hank lived in Pensacola, Key West, Fla., Monterey, Calif., Lakehurst, N.J. and finally settled in Virginia Beach. Mary was a devoted military wife and mother of two. She was an active member at Thalia United Methodist Church, teaching fourth grade Sunday school for many years. She was also active in the Windsor Oaks Elementary PTA and led the neighborhood Brownie Troop. Mary's commitment to her community and the local public schools was evident by the hours of service she volunteered regularly. In 1985, Mary went to work for Dr. Glenn Owens and Dr. Howard Dorman, serving as the receptionist and doctor patient liaison of their orthodontics practice until her retirement. Mary had an infectious smile, generous spirit, kind and thoughtful disposition and charismatic energy. She loved people and made everyone around her feel special and loved. She gave her time and energy to anyone in need. Mary found great joy and happiness in her grandchildren and modeled a life of compassion and integrity for them. She adored her friends and family, her life on Liberty Ridge Road, the beach, her pets, music and singing, watching sports, travelling, advocating for justice, supporting her children, sharing her faith, laughing and telling stories. She left the world a bit better for having been a part of so many people's lives. Mary is survived in death by her two daughters, Yvonne Roeder and her husband, Roland of Chesapeake, Va., and Laura Clay and her spouse, Beth Barksdale of Germanton, N.C.; two sisters, Debby Firor and Joyce Green Smith; two brothers, Jim Avery and John Avery; four grandchildren, Olivia, Connor, Alex and Kip; five nieces, Melissa, CJ, Heather, Jennifer Samuels, and Jennifer Avery; seven nephews, Brandon, John, David, Jason, Joshua, Jeremiah, and Justin. There will be a Memorial Service in Virginia Beach, on Feb. 25 at Thalia United Methodist Church at 11 a.m., celebrating the life of Mary Clay. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Alzheimer's Association. You may sign the online guestbook at www.coffeecountyfuneralchapel.com. Coffee County Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Clay family.
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