Long ago in the hills of southeastern Minnesota a baby gnome, who was to be called Bob, was born. Little did anyone know this little one would grow to be such a knowledgeable and wise gnome. Though weakened through childhood illness, this gnome’s courageous heart would inspire strength, love, and confidence in others. Never would those who knew him consider him weak. In fact, in later years his heart became even more vibrant and those close to him claimed to be able to hear the neat of hat caring and compassionate heart.
As with many young gnomes, this boy tried several times to serve his country joining the Air Force, but the Big Ones always said he was too weak. Little did they know….So he decided to go to college. After attending Hamline University and Winona State College and obtaining his teaching degree, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Master’s in educational administration. His first teaching position was in Pine City and then he went to his hometown Lewiston where he also coached.
From Lewiston, carrying his books under his arms and his knowledge under his cap, he journeyed west, but only as far as Gnometown, for when he arrived there he knew he had found his new home. There was just something about the people there, something about how they made him feel, something that told him – these are good people. The Gnometown school board hired him to teach science at their school. He took his books from under his am, his knowledge from under his red cap, and with his heart o his sleeve, began imparting his knowledge and encouragement to the children of Gnometown. Son he was appointed principal and then superintendent. What an honor?! During this time an addition was built onto the school and a separate elementary school was constructed. Soon the children would be so happy to have new school mates from the neighboring community of Boyd. At school, Gnome Bob could be seen quietly moving about the building, conversing with the teachers and other staff about the challenges and successes of the day, encouraging students, and complimenting coaches on a job well done.
Gnome Bob knew that a variety of educational programming was important so each student could excel in his or her own way. Wanting to attend all the school sports, music and speech events, he decided it would be great help to have a gnome mobile for transportation. A blue ’57 Chevy would be just the ticket. That gnome mobile could be seen, not only at school and school events but also at he homes of friends and at businesses in town, at the church where Bon was an elder for many years, traveling the country roads to time the bus routes, and heading all directions out of town in the winter snow to see of it was sage for the children to come to school. It took Bob to community meetings (Park Board, Library Board, and Hospital Committee), to joyful events like Soybean Days, and to help out in hard times too such s to fill sandbags at flood time.
One of the first places people saw the ’57 was at the hospital, where Gnome Bob was picking up his wife, Majorie, and their 4th newborn child, Richard, to drive them home to the big house on Chestnut Street where they would join their daughters, Beverly and Ann and their son, Ross. The Clay gnomes lived in that house where the elms hung down over the street for many years. They shared their home with friends and welcomed extended family members to live with them when the need arose. Inviting all the teachers over before school began each year was always fun.
Gnome Bob worked hard. When vacation time came he enjoyed traveling with his family back to southeastern Minnesota, camping out West, and going to a special lake which he had learned of from other gnomes, the Maestro John and his wife Mary. There he spent time with them, with his extended family, and with some of his other Gnometown friends; Ken and Dot, Dick and Lois, and Joe and Mary. Back in Gnometown he could be found tending to his flower gardens, hunting with his boys and dog Gypsy, or just spending time with his family sharing with them his love, his knowledge and his advice.
Gnome Bob believed that family, friends, teachers, and other community members are all essential in raising and educating children, so they too can inspire others to be their best. It is said a true measure of a person’s legacy is not how long he lives but how he lives. Through his quiet, unassuming way, and with his knowledge, wisdom, strength and compassion Bob Clay left a legacy of love and courage that lives on in those who knew him.