Clayton H. Smith

YARMOUTH – A resident of Yarmouth for over 74 years, Clayton passed away peacefully at his home on Jan. 25, 2021 in his 100th year.

He was born in Lynchburg Va. on July 9, 1921 to Neeley and Vera (Higgins) Smith and the family returned to Portland shortly thereafter. He attended Portland schools and it was at Deering High that he met Marjorie, his wife of 74 years.

He enjoyed school and sports, and graduated with the Deering High School class of 1939. After attending the University of New Hampshire he enlisted in the Navy during WWII. He and Marjorie married in 1943 before being assigned to duty in the Pacific aboard the USS Hovey as a bridge officer. When the Hovey sank in the Philippines after a torpedo strike, he was awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, Clayton and Marjorie bought a farm in Yarmouth which remained their lifelong home. Clayton became a teacher at his alma mater Deering High where he taught English, coached baseball, basketball, public speaking, and was involved in school drama productions. Many past students remained in touch over the years and he always remembered them and their individual talents.

He had an early interest in harness horse racing, purchasing his first racehorse, Miss Marie Grattan, at the age of 25. This purchase was the beginning of a life-long treasured friendship and partnership with Donald Richards, with Donnie training and racing horses for him and jointly owning several over the years. Clayton’s involvement in harness racing took an unexpected turn when he served as announcer for a friend’s trick horse show held at the Cumberland Fairgrounds. Overheard by track management, he was hired to announce the races for the Cumberland Fair and his career as a track announcer was launched.

Eventually leaving teaching altogether in the early 1960s, he became a full-time harness racing official at tracks along the East Coast. He became the announcer at Foxborough Raceway in Massachusetts, as well as a racing official at tracks such as Rosecroft outside Washington D.C., Pocono Downs in Wilkes Barre, Pa., and he enjoyed a long tenure at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H. Clayton was also a well-known fixture at the Maine tracks of Lewiston, Bangor and Scarborough Downs to name a few. Highly regarded by horse owners, drivers and track management he was honored to be inducted into the New England Harness Writers Hall of Fame in 2000. After retiring in 1986 from full time officiating duties he continued to work summers at several Maine fairs, finishing out his career as Director of Racing for the Skowhegan State Fair in 2018 at the age of 97. For many years Clayton also owned and operated Pine Tree Sales Company which auctioned racehorses and equipment at venues across Maine.

Clayton was an avid golfer, with memberships at Val Halla Golf Club, Freeport Country Club, and Toddy Brook. He played in countless local tournaments over the years and was a keen competitor in the Maine Seniors Golf Association League. He and Marjorie enjoyed playing together in Maine, and also in Myrtle Beach, S.C. where they wintered in their retirement years. Clayton was also a familiar face on the first tee at Toddy Brook where he worked for several years as a course starter, continuing to work and play golf there until after the age of 93.

Clayton is predeceased by his wife Marjorie; sons, Barry and Gregory Smith; his parents; and his sisters, Virginia Knight, Jean Barnes, and Barbara Pride.

He is survived by son, Jeffrey Smith, daughter, Andrea and her husband Patrick Mullen, daughter-in-law, Bonnie Smith; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

His cheerful presence, listening ear, helping hand, and generous advice will be greatly missed by family and his many friends.

The family would like to thank Dottie, Bonnie, and Darlene for their care given to Clayton in his later years and to Beacon Hospice for providing comfort in his final days.

A celebration of Clayton’s life will be held at a later date when it is safe to gather and share memories in person.

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