Clayton Frank Simon
Clayton Frank Simon was born July 28,1962, in Gettysburg, SD. He joined his proud parents: Jean and Robert “Sonny” Simon Jr and two siblings, Lora and Clinton. He was raised on the family farm 11 miles east of Eagle Butte. While growing up on the farm he learned a love of the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was known as one of the “best shots” in the country. He started with a sling shot at a young age, then advanced to a BB gun and eventually to a single shot 22 that his Great-uncle Spike gave to him. By the time he was seven, he was regularly shooting prairie dogs with his Uncle Spike and was known to rarely miss a shot. He even took to target practice in the house. The baseboard in his family home was marked with BB indentions that were evidence of the mice hunt that he would partake in each night. He was known to sit in the living room with his slingshot and BB gun and shoot mice as they would scurry across the baseboard of the room. There was one night when it was said that he killed 21 mice!
Clay lost his father at a young age. Clay was raised by a loving mother with the help of “a village” of very caring relatives and neighbors. Clay spent a lot of time with his cousins Jesse Thompson, Duane and Doyle Simon, Jason Simon, Todd Petersen and Joe Rose, neighbors Lance and Oren Lesmeister, Kevin and David Haberman and Mike and Reed Haskell. With all these friends and relatives there were always enough people to make a good baseball or football game on a Sunday afternoon.
Family was always very important to Clay. From the time he was a teenager all the way to the time of being a grandfather, he could sit down in a room and within 15 minutes every kid in the room would be flocked around him to enjoy his teasing and playing. His nieces and nephews were always very important to him and he always had a way of making special time for each of them.
He attended school at Cheyenne Eagle Butte and graduated in 1980. He always said “School is not my favorite subject, but I have to go.” He played football for four years on one of the best teams that Eagle Butte has ever had. His junior year the teams record was 8-1 and they went undefeated (9-0) during Clay’s senior year! During his last two years of high school, Clay’s mom re-married and moved to the Agar area. Clay decided that he wanted to stay with relatives in order to graduate from Cheyenne Eagle Butte and stay close to his nieces and nephew. Clay lived with many loving friends and family during this time that included his sister, Lora, and her husband Walter, as well as several aunts and uncles.
During high school and upon graduation Clay worked at a local service station called “Larry’s Standard” until he moved to California in the early 80’s. In California, he spent his first four year’s living with his cousin Hogan and her family while working construction with her husband Tom. As time went on, he worked with other companies and ended up as a Forman for the Operators Union for the Tierra Contracting Company.
Before meeting and marrying Cindy in 1988, he met and fell in love with her two boys Jeramy, and Jason who initially called him “Uncle Clay.” After a short amount of time, the boys decided that it was time for their mom to meet “Cool Uncle Clay.” The boys set it up to so that Clay had to ride with Cindy after their football game to show her how to get to a pizzeria. They began dating, and were married July 23, 1988. Ten months later they welcomed their only little girl, Kayla Jo on May 19, 1989. Kayla became a big sister 22 months later when they welcomed their youngest son Casey James on March 25, 1991.
Clay carried on his loves of the outdoors and shooting by teaching all of his children how to be handy with a gun. Clay often spoke of how his youngest son Casey was “a better shot with his pistol than he was.” He recently taught his daughter how to accurately shoot a slingshot. There were a couple times that he had to hide his jealousy when she was shooting “better” than him! He made it clear, that he was the best shot around in his day, and she “hadn’t seen nothing yet”!
Clay would forever been known by all as “Papa” after the birth of his first granddaughter Raven Renee on August 26th, 1996. Papa instantly fell in love with his first granddaughter, and was shortly wrapped around her tiny little finger. Raven loved following him around and was often Papa’s little helper, ready to help fix, or tear apart anything he happened to be working on. Three years later, on June 7, 1999, Raven became a big sister, and the whole family welcomed Shylee Marie to the world. Then all of a sudden TWO little girls had Papa wrapped around their little fingers. After becoming a grandfather Clay would slowing forget how to use the word “No.”
On August 21, 2004, after the marriage of Jeramy and Cindy, Clay would happily gain a new daughter Cindy, and third granddaughter Erica Renee. Three years later we were all blessed with a pleasant surprise when Jeramy and Cindy announced they would be having another baby. February 14, 2007, our wonderful surprise Zoey Renee was welcomed to the world. Valentine’s Day would be forever cancelled in our family, and be known only as Zoey’s birthday! In May of 2008, Peter Sanchez, began dating Clay’s daughter, and would eventually become like a fourth son to him.
Papa spent most Saturdays at some kind of sporting event, rooting for his granddaughters! Most weekends were filled with barbeques and lots of family togetherness. Clay was known as the family MacGyver, because he could virtually fix or build anything out of spare parts. He had a way of instantly becoming a special part of almost everyone’s life that he came in contact with.
Clay is survived by his wife Cindy; children Jeramy (Cindy) Pippins, Jason Pippins, Kayla Simon (Peter Sanchez), Casey Simon; granddaughters Raven, Shylee, Erica and Zoey; One brother, Clinton (Cathy) Simon; one brother-in-law, Walter Berndt; Nephews and nieces: Jimmy Paul Berndt, Elizabeth Berndt, Amy (Samson) Boutchee, Jennifer Simon, Jayne (Shawn) Hintz, Becky (Gabe) Hastings, and Robert Simon.
Clay was preceded in death by his father, Robert Simon Jr.; his mother, Jean (Miller) Simon-McClure; one sister, Lora Jane Berndt, and stepfather Victor James McClure.
A celebration of life was held on Tuesday, March 25, at the All-Saints Catholic Church in Eagle Butte. A service and meal was served. Father Dan Juelfs officiated the service and Ken Ripley of Kesling Funeral Home handled the arrangements.