Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Two-Time Volunteer, 82-Year-Old John Clay

WASHINGTON, D.C.  June 4, 2013 – The Peace Corps regretfully confirms the death of Peace Corps volunteer John Clay. John died Friday, May 31 in Colorado at the age of 82 after battling cancer. He was with his family at the time of his death. John was an education volunteer in Tanzania and returned to Colorado in mid-April after becoming ill. He would have completed his two years of service this August.

“John was passionately committed to helping others,” Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “He not only served twice in the Peace Corps but also had a long history of teaching and mentoring young students, and representing his community in local government. His wisdom drew great respect and was of great value to his students in Tanzania.”

Peace Corps Volunteer John Clay

John, of Crystal Falls, Mich., arrived in Tanzania on June 13, 2011 for pre-service training and was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer on Aug. 24, 2011. He taught math in a rural secondary school in Njombe, where he brought an incredibly rich life of experience and service. From 1998-2000, John also served as a Peace Corps education volunteer in South Africa. His colleagues said he loved math and aimed to make it fun and mainstream.

In addition to a master’s degree in education from Wayne State University, John had 50 years of teaching experience. He taught math and science at the elementary and high school levels across seven states, including on an Indian reservation. He also coached numerous sports teams, spent several years as the director of a hiking summer camp, and was a Scoutmaster for 20 years.

John loved to garden and often collected different flowers from around Tanzania and planted them in his community. His other hobbies included stamp collecting, skiing, canoeing and mountain climbing. Prior to his service in Tanzania, John visited Zanzibar and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

On his most recent Peace Corps application, John stated that he planned to use all he had learned throughout his 50 years of teaching, and wanted to see how high he could push expectations for both his students and faculty partners.

John is survived by his children.

About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit for more information.

# # #

Contact us

All contacts
Call toll-free

Get press releases emailed to you right when they are issued.

Sign up now