Obituary for Clayton Wilhite (2021) – Ann Arbor, MI

Clayton Edward Wilhite

Clayton Edward Wilhite. On April 6, 2021, Clayt passed away peacefully at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on his wife’s 75th birthday, after a long, courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease and with his sister by his side. Before Clayt, his loving wife Ann died, who passed away on November 20, 2020. Clayt was born on August 9, 1945 to loving, supportive, and compassionate parents, Clayton and Ruth Wilhite. He grew up in Lansing and Bay City, Michigan. Clayt had a passionate interest in academics and athletes. He was a two-year-old all-state soccer star at Bay City Handy High School. He was named All-American Quarterback in 1962, with the additional distinction of being inducted into the National Honor Society. In 1963, Clayt was enlisted at the University of Michigan and played various positions under head coach Bump Elliott, who wrote from 1964 to 1966. In his senior year, he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to defeat The Ohio State Buckeyes. Above all, Clayt received the Maulbetsch, Robinson, Yost and Phi Beta Kappa awards for academic and athletic achievements. In 1969, Clayt met the love of his life, Ann Douglass, a fellow Wolverine. They were married on June 27, 1970 in Woodbridge, Connecticut. After their marriage they began their odyssey in the world of advertising and over the years they took on assignments in Chicago and Sydney, Australia (Foote, Cone & Belding), London (Young and Rubicam), St. Louis (D’Arcy, Masius Benton ) & Bowles) and New York (Ammirati & Puris, McCann-Erickson and DMB & B / North America) before returning to Ann Arbor in 1997. Clayt was a managing partner and a member of the board of directors of CFI World Wide, an international consulting firm until he retired in 2008. During that time, he also held board positions at Carrols Corporation, Burger King’s largest franchisee, and Pollo Tropical Corporation , a restaurant chain in the southern United States and Latin America. Clayt was very interested in politics and in 1976 he said goodbye to advertising. He and Ann traveled to Washington DC to help a former Wolverine, President Gerald Ford, as an internal agency executive in the re-election campaign. In 1992 he returned in the same position to serve in President George HW Bush’s campaign. Over the years, Clayt continued his leadership skills on the board of directors of the University Musical Society and was instrumental in establishing the UMS National Council Committee, which ensured the financial stability of the organization and strengthened the university and received enthusiastic support from Michigan’s alumni and the international art community . Clayt is survived by brother Jim Wilhite (Ellen) of Shelburne, Vermont; Sister Mary Post of Auburn, Michigan; Brother-in-law Tom Douglass (Betsy) of St. Louis, Missouri; Sister-in-law Elizabeth Bobro (Greg) from South Carolina; 11 nieces and nephews and 13 great nieces and nephews. Before Clayt, his wife Ann, brother-in-law Michael Post, and sister-in-law Janet Douglass died. The family would like to thank Violet Sabou, a special friend and carer who showed unconditional love and care during Clayt and Ann’s illnesses. In addition, the family would like to thank the Brightstar staff and caregivers for their support and kindness and Nina Valean for the 16 years of looking after their home. A memorial reception for Clayt and Ann will be held at St Paul’s Lutheran Church at 420 West Liberty in Ann Arbor on Saturday, May 8, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, followed by a Pastor-led Christian service Donald Neuendorf. Clayt, Ann, and Janet Douglass are buried at a private service in Washtenong Memorial Park Cemetery. Instead of flowers, consider contributing to the Michigan Athletics for Academic Success program at UofM, 1000 State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (Attention: Melissa Montague). the University Musical Society, 881 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; St. Paul Lutheran Church, 420 West Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; or to a charity of your choice on behalf of Clayt or Ann.

Published in The Detroit News & Detroit Free Press April 17-18, 2021.

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