When Karen and I retired to the beautiful Black Hills, one of the first people I looked forward to visiting with again was Eddie Clay. I first knew Eddie in the 1980s when he was Chairman of the South Dakota Board for Educational Telecommunications and I worked for SDPB in Vermillion. He's one of those remarkable individuals who seems to thrive on activity. I believe the Energizer bunny was modeled after Eddie Clay.
Most people throughout the southern Hills region know Eddie and his delightful wife Clara. Residents of Hot Springs for more than half a century, there is hardly any aspect of positive civic life untouched by Eddie and/or Clara. So it was fitting this week that the South Dakota Hall of Fame should name Eddie Clay as one of 13 inductees for 2007.
I had heard that Eddie was being selected, but I didn't know it was in the Unsung Heroes category. While that certainly fits, he could have been chosen for any one of several categories. Governmental Affairs for his service locally and in the legislature. Communications for his leadership with South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Education & Cultural Affairs for his vision and contribution to the Mammoth Site and Mount Rushmore. Business & Trade for his many years of successful ventures with Fall River Abstract. And the list goes on.
Truth be known -- and Eddie would echo this loudly, I'm sure -- the award is as much for Clara Clay. Her own significant contributions and involvements in the community and across the region merit recognition -- and her steadfast devotion to Eddie and the partnership they've enjoyed through the years serves as a model for many of us. Much more information about Eddie will be posted in the local and statewide media in the days to come. This is a richly-deserved award. I am proud to know Eddie, Clara, and their daughter Bobbi. Those of us who know the Clay family understand why Eddie was chosen, and we offer our warmest congratulations to them all!