Clay, W8JNZ, at the 2005 Holiday Brunch. Photo: Dave New, N8SBE.


Claybourne (Clay) Mitchell, Jr., physicist, inventor, and avid amateur radio operator (W8JNZ), died December 8, 2017, in Reston, VA from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 94 years old and formerly a longtime resident of Ann Arbor, MI. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Clay was the son of Ethel and Claybourne Mitchell, Sr. He attended Flint Central High School, Flint Junior College, and the University of Michigan, where he received a BS in Physics in 1950 and MS in Physics in 1959. During the Second World War, he served as a Master Sergeant in the Army Air Force, Engineering Aviation Battalion, Pacific Theatre (1943-1946). Before retirement, Clay was employed at Bendix Aerospace Systems Division, Udylite Corporation, Controlled Power Corporation, Elcoat Systems (PPG Industries), and Detroit Edison (now DTE Energy), where he retired in 1988 as Vice President, Planning, Research, and Environmental Protection.

He was active for several years in the Optical Society of America and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He also served on several advisory committees, including for the Argonne National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute, Michigan Technological University, and the University of Michigan. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Science Center and the Michigan Energy and Resource Research Association. He also held several physics-related patents. In retirement, Clay enjoyed world travel, cycling, creative writing, fellowship with Detroit Unity and the Ann Arbor Friends, and supporting amateur radio licensing. He was preceded in death by his wife Isabella Ophelia Mitchell (2003) and is survived by his daughter Faith (Archie Brown), granddaughter Alexis Brown, and other relatives.A memorial service will be held January 13, 2018 in Northern Virginia.

On a personal note, I always considered Clay to be one of the “lions” of our club. He, along with Roger, W8ZRF, continued to hold test sessions, even when there wasn’t really an ARROW. In that way, he helped keep amateur radio alive in Ann Arbor.

He was always a joy to talk to. He was thoughtful and intelligent and had a subtle sense of humor. We will certainly miss him.

–Dan, KB6NU