Lorene Alderman Clay was born on February 28, 1928 in Putnam Hall, FL. She is the daughter of B.J. and Edna Alderman. She attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse in Grandin.
The family moved to Palatka in her 9th grade year to attend Mellon High School. She excelled in music and played the trumpet in her high school band. She was a valuable member of the basketball team.
Upon graduation she attended Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. She carried two of her horses with her and she taught many of her friends to ride. One such friend was a princess from Iran. At Converse she majored in English and minored in Music.
Upon returning she met Tommy Clay. After a period of courtship, they married on August 28, 1949. They were married for 69 years until Clay’s death in December of 2018.
She began teaching piano lessons at her home and ultimately at elementary schools in Palatka.
The family business was raising Angus cattle. Her father died in 1970 and she became the ranch boss. She was very proficient with a gun and cow whip.
But where she excelled was on horseback. There simply wasn’t a horse she couldn’t ride. She rode the ranch’s horses at the horse races at Cracker Days throughout Northeast Florida. Cracker Day is an old southern ranching tradition.
Her strong belief in education led her to found the Briarwood School, a private school in Palatka. The school was eventually a K-12 school with interscholastic athletics. Insurmountable costs eventually closed the school, but not before many students graduated to many different colleges. The school was open from 1972-1985.
Her Christian faith was a constant in her life. Her first church was Paran Baptist in Grandin. After moving to Palatka, she became a member of St. James Methodist Church, where she was a Sunday School teacher. She became a founding member of Christ Independent Methodist Church in 1966. She was an organist and Sunday School teacher. She was on the church building committee and was largely responsible for the beautiful interior of the church today. Inevitably she returned to Paran where she re-formed the choir and accompanied the music with her son.
Lorene was a teacher and an educator. She was a musician of the highest quality and shared her talent willingly.
Above all she was a true rancher and cowgirl, working the ranch with her family.
Lorene lived a beautiful life that she loved; and she lived it well.
She is survived by her son, Tommy (Sally Jan), grandson, Chance (Sarah) and two great-grandchildren, Lilli and Rylee.
Services will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Paran Baptist Church in Grandin with Rev. Cliff Lyda officiating. Burial will follow in Paran Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church on Tuesday beginning at 10:00 am until time of services.
Flowers are gratefully accepted or memorial donations may be sent to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, 180 Boys Ranch Road, Palatka, FL 32177.
Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at Lorene’s Book of Memories page at www.johnsonoverturffunerals.com .
Arrangements are entrusted to Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.