Sayre News

The Passing of a Visionary
Posted 08/26/2017 09:59AM

Clayton G. Chambliss

Photo by Hannah Goodman '05

It is with profound sadness that we share the passing of our dear friend and colleague Clayton G. Chambliss. Clayton was Sayre’s Headmaster for twenty-two years, the second longest in the school’s distinguished history.

Clayton was the visionary who transformed a twentieth century school into a twenty-first century academic model. Through his strategic leadership, the campus was rebuilt and the athletic complex was secured and developed. He placed Sayre at the vanguard of academic and technological innovation.

"The tremendous influence that Clayton Chambliss had on Sayre can be both seen and felt,” Head of School Stephen Manella said. “Award-winning buildings like the Lucy Bryans VanMeter '79 Upper School and the Buttery launched Sayre into the twenty-first century. Even more important is the fact that at one point Clayton had hired the vast majority of the faculty that so many of our families have grown to love. The warm and caring tone that is Sayre, and still impacting our students today, has been shaped by his vision and leadership."

Clayton’s quick smile and friendly nature endeared him to a multitude of friends in academic, faith and art circles. He lived by the core values he instituted on campus: wisdom, integrity, respect, and compassion. The values find expression in his favorite quote which he often shared with the Sayre community in trying times…

"Life is short and there is little time to gladden the hearts of those who go the journey with us. So, be quick to love and make haste to be kind." Henri F Amiel

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 171 Market Street, Lexington, KY, 40507, on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. Reception to follow in Sayre School’s Buttery, 194 N. Limestone Street, Lexington, KY.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be sent to Sayre School, in memory of Clayton G. Chambliss, 194 N. Limestone Street, Lexington, KY, 40507.

As the news has spread, the tributes have been pouring in…

“CLAYTON was intelligent, interested in everyone he met, extremely dedicated to educating youth, esteemed by the nationwide independent school community, and a real gentleman in the purest sense of the word.

He hired many outstanding faculty and focused on their continuing professional development. In my opinion, he was the quintessential independent school headmaster and a dear and faithful friend to many.” ~ Carole Nahra, Former Board Member and Past Parent

“CLAYTON came into our lives when our daughter started Preschool at Sayre. We were impressed with the school and its Headmaster; the air of competence, the level of acumen about children and how they should be educated, and what tools they needed to be successful in an ever-changing world.

Clayton and his family also attended our church. We had a personal relationship that deepened over the years. His core values of integrity, respect and an endearing Spartan spirit were examples of leadership. He enriched our time together with his intimate knowledge of education, his love for Maine and Florida, his generosity of spirit, and the surety that you would laugh often and long. It was an honor to work with him, to play with him, to ache with him, and to laugh with him. We will miss his warm smile and voice saying, “How are you, my friend?” ~ Wyn, Former Board Chair, and Jean Ellen Ezzell ’74 Paulson, Past Parents

“During CLAYTON’S tenure, he raised Sayre to the highest academic standards while maintaining a caring, nurturing community. He wanted to lift us up! His passing is a loss to the Sayre community and the educational community at large. I was privileged to work with him.” ~ Kitty Sautter, Former Board Chair, Lower School teacher, and Past Parent.

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