Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Hugh Connolly Clayton

Marine architect, engineer, civic leader, veteran Boy Scouter, humanitarian, philanthropist -- the list goes on and on when you try to describe the life's work and diverse accomplishments of Hugh Connolly Clayton.

One of a vanishing species, Hugh Clayton was born in the Pleasant Plains section of Toms River and attended the Toms River Schools all his life. Directly out of high school Clayton worked for a local builder building houses and chicken coops.

The following year Clayton went to work for the United States Navy at Elco Naval Division in Bayonne building PT boats. He was soon in charge of setting engines, props, etc. and test running the completed boats. In 1941, Clayton went to work for the Annapolis yacht yard in Maryland to build a Lend Lease PT Boat.

Working for the USN Bureau of Ships, he did the designing of installations and all the mechanical items such as engines and hookup, machine guns and torpedoes. Early in 1943, he was selected to go to Russia with two other young merrto build the PT boats in Leningrad, Russia, so they could be put into action on the East side of the German blockade in the Baltic Sea. Having arrived directly after the siege of Leningrad, he found no food, 55 degrees below zero weather, and a work force consisting of women and children. For his unique contribution to the war effort Hugh Clayton was awarded the highest honor in Russia, the Order of Red Banner of Labor, which was presented to him at a dinner in Leningrad.

By 1946, Clayton was back in the United States where he designed and built the molds for the Annapolis 46', 53', and 60' yachts. The following year he returned to Toms River and began the Clayton Yacht Works with his brother Lloyd, later adding Clayton Skiffs, Inc., employing 300 workers at its Fischer Boulevard location.

In 1959, Clayton sold the business to "retire" at age 39. True to form his so-called retirement was alive with activity. He did some consulting work for Hess Oil Co. designing and building large oil systems, developed Edgemere Estates, built the Albacondo Campground and bought real estate in Florida where he currently owns three mobile home parks, a marina, a restaurant, two 400' fishing peers, and a personal home.

In 1988, he built the new Ocean County Council Boy Scout Service Center; in 1989, a new log cabin at Albacondo; and today is looking forward eagerly to many new projects.

A resume of Hugh Clayton's Boy Scout activities would be impossible to describe in this short work but the grand total of years involved to date equals 58 years and still going strong. What is readily apparent is that he has held every position and been on every committee on the county, regional, and national levels. On the national level he has been chairman of Insignia and Uniform, of Activities, vice chairman of Sea Exploring, and member of the National Exploring Committee, of the High Adventure Committee, and member of the National Executive Board.

In the 1937 National Jamboree, he was part of the Honor Guard to President Franklin Roosevelt. As an adult leader, he was Chairman of Physical Arrangements in 1977, 1981, and 1985. He fulfilled the same roles for International Jamborees in 1979 (Sweden), 1981 (Canada), and 1985 (Australia).

On the county level, Clayton found the land and helped build the Brookville Scout Reservation. He donated the land for the Council office along with a personal endowment of $300,000. He has received many top awards including the Silver Beaver (Ocean County), Silver Antelope (Regional), and Silver Buffalo (National), an award he received at the same time it was given to President Reagan.

As active as Clayton was in building successful businesses and in a lifetime of scouting, he somehow found time to be a volunteer fireman for 30 years, serve as a Dover Township Fire Commissioner for 9 years as well as design and build with volunteers the Pleasant Plains Fire House, organize the Pleasant Plains First Aid Squad and design and build with volunteers their current building, was a non-paid special Dover Township policeman for 20 years during which time he built the FBI Pistol Range for training police officers, donated the 2 1/2 acre site for Riverwood Park, served on the Dover Township Planning Board for 14 years (7 years as chairman) during which time the Dover Parks and Recreation Department was begun, is a lifetime member of Kiwanis and past president, was a Special Deputy Sheriff and along with his brother Lloyd designed and built a fire rescue boat to be used by the police, and has been active all his life in St. Andrews United Methodist Church (formerly the Pleasant Plains Methodist Church).

Truly a "man for all seasons", Hugh Clayton personifies the home town boy who succeeded on a national and international level but at the same time dedicated his life to maintaining and improving the quality of life in Toms River and Ocean County.

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