Clayton B. Spencer

1937-2016 A Taft Legacy

Clayton Blanchard Spencer, 79, died at midnight December 9th, 2016 at his home with family beside him following a long battle with cancer. He leaves his wife of 36 years, Susan (Fischer) Spencer; his daughter Jane; his son, Jonathan; his son Oliver; his daughter Jennie; his sisters, Carolyn Means, Ginny Giddens, Franny Means; five grandchildren, and many close friends.

Born in Hartford and raised in West Hartford, the son of Clayton Burr Spencer and Francis Means, he was a lifelong resident of Litchfield as well as Watertown, and the Fenwick community in Old Saybrook. He attended the Kingswood-Oxford school and graduated from the Taft School. He attended Yale University, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelors of Arts in History. Years later he completed his Masters in History from Trinity College.

Following Yale, he was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy where he served as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific. Following his Naval service, he briefly worked at the Hartford Bank & Trust until he went to work at the Taft School teaching History and serving in the Admissions Office. Known by all as Chip, he was selected at a very young age to be the headmaster of the all boys school, McTernans in Waterbury, where he oversaw the merger with the all girls school, St Margaret’s, now known as the Chase Collegiate School. After 7 years as headmaster, he left to work for Billings & Co, a subsidiary of Advest for many years. In 1994, he returned back to the Taft School as the Director of Planned Giving where he remained for over 10 years leaving a lasting legacy to the school.

He loved and cherished his work at Taft having developed long and lasting friendships with the faculty, staff as well as countless numbers of donors and contributors. He never considered fundraising to be a job as much as a call to service for the school he loved, attended, and his children attended. Over the years, Chip’s fundraising expertise and reputation led him to be called upon as an advisor and consultant by many organizations. Clayton met his first wife, Letitia Butler, while at Yale and was married for 14 years until her early death. He married Susan Fischer of Litchfield and enjoyed a long life at their home in Litchfield and summer residence in Fenwick. They spent many hours passionately toiling in the gardens and working the land he loved.

He served on the boards of St Michael’s parish, the Litchfield Historical Society, the Litchfield Montessori School, Litchfield Preservation Trust, and the Lynde Point Land Trust. An avid sailor, skier, golfer, tennis & paddle tennis player, he was a longtime member of the Litchfield Country Club, the Dauntless Club, of Essex, and the Sanctum Club of Litchfield. A memorial service will be held on December 17th at 11am at St Michael’s Parish in Litchfield. A separate gravesite service will be held in the spring in Old Saybrook. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Michael’s parish, the Litchfield Historical Society, or the Taft School. Kindly visit to send the family an online condolence

Published in The Hartford Courant December 13, 2016