June 24, 1963 - June 5, 2023
William Charles Clay, 59, died Monday evening, June 5, 2023 at home surrounded by his loving family, after a short battle with glioblastoma. Bill was born in Raleigh, NC, the youngest child of Charles and Betty Clay. The elder Clay’s work with newspapers and progressive North Carolina politics took the family to Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, and eventually back to Raleigh, where Bill graduated from Broughton High School.
Bill attended NC State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in zoology and animal biology, and a Master of Science in virology. Bill’s work as a research scientist involved molecular biology, virology, recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) engineering and production, recombinant protein engineering, protein overexpression in mammalian baculovirus systems, cell-based assay development, and bioinformatics. His work took him around the world as a speaker, author and co-author. He proudly worked with some of the brightest minds in his field at NCSU School of Veterinary Medicine, GSK, and StrideBio.
Bill was creative, generous with his time talents, and a good friend. He had an infectious smile and loved engaging with people. True to his roots, he was active in progressive political causes, particularly voter protection during elections. He was a skilled builder, evident in many home projects and his work with Habitat for Humanity. An accomplished musician, he played bass with a number of bands in the Triangle. In 2006 while at GSK, their corporate band “The Pharmers” won the Battle of the Bands. Bill was also an avid outdoorsman, birder and scuba diver. Supporting his children, he was a parent-coach and cheerleader for sports teams and nurtured their talents.
Bill is predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Kelly, and 3 children: Rebekah Clay of Anchorage, Alaska, Rachel Clay of Asheville, NC, and William Charles (“Liam”) Clay, Jr. of the home. He is also survived by his sisters: Omega Clay of Durham, Patricia Clay of Raleigh, and Maggie Clay Love (Allyn) of Raleigh. The family would like to thank the staff of Bayada Home Health Care and Transitions Lifecare for their support during Bill’s illness, especially Susan, Sherwada, Jamine, and Ronni. And special thanks to the many friends and angels including #TeamBill MHS (go Wildcats!) who supported Bill and the whole family these last 6 months.
A service in celebration of Bill’s life will be held on Friday, June 9, 2023 at 2:00pm at Church of the Nativity, 8849 Ray Road, Raleigh. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Liam’s College Fund (https://app.backer.com/williamscollegefund397?), Church of the Nativity (https://nativityonline.org), or a favorite charity.