Clay Eugene Barnes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Clay Eugene Barnes

Clay Eugene Barnes passed away peacefully while he slept on March 3, 2006, following a lingering illness.

Clay was born Sept. 1, 1932, in Oakland, Calif., to Cecil “Clay” and Elizabeth Campbell Barnes. Their family experienced the difficult times during the post-depression era from which Clay learned his outstanding “can and do” work ethic, and to appreciate the simple things some take for granted. Clay joined the Navy in 1949 to see the world, but the Korean War began shortly after and he would later joke that all he saw was Korea. He served proudly as a boatswains mate on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Los Angeles. After the war Clay worked a variety of jobs and enjoyed an auto-racing hobby. He won a multitude of trophies in the Central Valley area beginning with junker stock cars and ending up racing in the super-modified division.

Clay moved to Lake Tahoe in 1966 and soon met and married Janet Williamson Lee, whom he often referred to as the best thing to ever happen to him. She will forever remain the true love of his life. Clay spent the majority of his life earning a living as an owner-operator of heavy equipment. In 1965 he bluffed his way into his first job after renting a backhoe for a half day and digging up a vacant lot, then presenting himself to his first employer as an “experienced” equipment operator. Clay could operate many types of equipment, but it was his skill with a backhoe that would be his claim to fame. Through the years many of his construction associates would comment that Clay was the best backhoe operator they’d ever seen. He got his contractor’s license and operated his backhoe service until semi-retiring in 1995. He continued to operate his snow removal business all the way to the end, still serving many of his original customers of more than 38 years.

Clay loved all types of fishing and traveling. He was an avid sports fan and especially loved the Oakland Raiders and NASCAR. He was a wonderful loving husband, father, and a true “character” who made a lasting impression on all who met him.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Janet, of South Lake Tahoe; sons and daughters-in-law, Jeff Lee and Ali Kipke-Lee of South Lake Tahoe, and Jim Lee and Dr. Sara Trask of Hood River, Ore.; grandsons, Ryan, Brandon, and Travis of South Lake Tahoe and Clayton of Hood River.

He was predeceased by his parents and his son, Gregory.

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At Clay’s request, there will be no services. Private inurnment will take place at Happy Homestead Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ordinary People Meeting Extraordinary Needs (OPEN), P.O. Box 13802, South Lake Tahoe CA 96151.