Robert Clay, a familiar face to anyone conducting archival research at the Library of Virginia from 1970 until his retirement in 2001, died May 6, 2010. I had the pleasure of working with Bob for the first two years of my employment at the Library in the late 1990s. As a new member of the archives reference staff, I had much to learn and Bob was an excellent teacher. I bombarded him with questions about Virginia Land Office patents and grants, Revolutionary War bounty warrants, Confederate pensions, chancery causes, and tithables.
He patiently and graciously answered every one of my many queries. I also watched him work with patrons and marveled at his ability to deal with any situation (good or bad) without losing his good humor. My favorite memory of Bob involves a reference call I received concerning coat of arms. Let’s just say that the caller was…..difficult; my lack of knowledge on the subject did not help matters. Unable to answer the caller’s questions to their satisfaction, I transferred the call to Bob. Later, when I followed up with him in order to learn more about the topic, he looked at me, smiled and in a mischievous voice said “don’t ever do that again.” He then handed me this sketch!
Please use the comment section of this post to share your memories of Bob.
-Roger Christman, LVA Senior State Records Archivist