Howard F. Claydon Jr.
Howard F. (Johnny) Claydon, Jr.
July 30, 1937 – October 9, 2016
It was apparent to all who knew him even as he spoke his first word that Johnny knew how to draw people out and pull people in: his humor, his intelligence, his curiosity and wild antics were irresistible from his beginnings; he knew from birth, it seems, how to live joyfully.
And so he did.
In his later years, he lived happily along Boulder Creek and the Creek path that winds around its banks, just two blocks from Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. Here, he gathered old friends together 4:30 to closing time; here is where he met strangers and dogs and an occasional kitty-cat who walked the path and who became his friends, joining the rest of the crowd.
It was, unquestionably, the questions he asked of everyone he ever met rapid-fire: about their lives, about their thoughts and interests, about events and consequences, about ideas, reflections- pickled
beets and scalloped potatoes with Easter ham.
He had, as well, rapid-fire careers: a bartender in Steamboat Springs, Denver, and Boulder the noisiest funniest bartender on the planet, so say some; a wild and reckless saddle Bronc and bull rider, sailing off the backs of both with equal efficiency; a film script writer; an editor of graduate dissertations; a B.A. in Classics from the University of Colorado; a love of gardening, cooking, jazz and blues, politics and philosophers. In short, Johnny was a connoisseur of damned near everything.
Of Johnny, friends, family, dogs, strangers, and an occasional kitty-cat have this to say:
“If you were his friend the famous or the infamous, the near toothless or tortured, the tough, the broken, the well-heeled, the writers, the musicians, the bartenders, the cowboys, the entrepreneurs, the black or white, the young or old, John would stick by you through hell or high water.”
“Johnny’s door was always open and practically everybody walked through it.”
“Johnny was amazing…bottom line. He was the smartest human being I have ever known. He was interested in all people, all walks of life, accepting of all, funny, kind, giving. He never gave up on dreams.”
“Walk into any Pub on the planet and you’ll run across a friend of Johnny’s.”
“We will miss the light he brought into this world.”
“For Johnny, the written or spoken word enchanted him; words were at the core of his being. For us who loved him, he will always be a part of our heart and soul.”
“All dogs loved Johnny because he gave them love and treats; the rest of us loved him for the same reasons.”
“He was attentive to all; he had an amazing gift for making one feel special.”
“He was courageous, smart, able. With no swaggering or braggadocio, he was tough as nails.”
“He shared that wonderful mind and taught me so much. His heart was young, joyous, and hopeful; and now mine is broken.”
“An original; one of a kind.”
“His breadth of knowledge, his varied life experiences, his sense of humor made him a most compelling raconteur.”
“Johnny had a gift, and he didn’t set it aside. He was one of the best natural storytellers ever invented by god or man, spilling out compelling and unorcchestrated recollections of people and events like a fairytale weaver spinning gold from an enchanted loom.”
“Like any bartender, he loved good stories and good booze.”
“A screen writer extraordinaire.”
“A man of words, both on and off the page, words of wisdom, of frivolity; the most interesting man in the world.”
“Johnny possessed the combination of wit, intelligence, compassion, all of which contributed to his creative writing.”
“John Claydon was the most curious man I have ever known. At once raconteur and interlocutor, writer and critic, idealist and activist, cowboy and classicist, ditch digger and philosopher. With his insatiable wonder about the experience of every person he met, he was an optimist and liberal intellectual without a trace of pretention. His spirit is an enduring reminder that we are redeemed by fulfilling our obligations to one another, here and now.”
“Death is an uncompromising bastard. But there’s one thing death can’t kill: Love. And Love is what John inspired in all of us.”
Johnny married Susan McGill in 1983. He is survived by Susan’s three children: Doug McGill and his wife Darla; Cathy Durning and her husband David; Elise Hinton and her husband Jim. He is also survived by his sister, Carol Olin and her son, Matt and his wife, Julie; and by Cynthia Bennett, friend and confidante. Johnny loved 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
And what would Johnny say to all of this?
“Hey, guys, let’s have some crowded HUGS here!”
Join us on November 5th at the Boulderado Hotel from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for snacks, drinks, lively conversation, and lots of crowded hugs.
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