Irma Ferguson Clayton was born to the union of Susie and Doddridge Ferguson in Lynchburg, Virginia July 18, 1927. She was the fifth of their six children. She was baptized at the age of thirteen and attended White Rock Baptist Church. She is a descendent of Dr. Frederick Isbell and his midwife Judith McCoy Ferguson, a Buffalo Ridge Cherokee.
She graduated from Dunbar High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. Immediately after graduation she went to live with her older sister and brother-in-law to attend Alabama State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1948 and also met her future husband. Upon moving to Cleveland Ohio, she attended Case Western Reserve University Graduate School of Education.
Irma married Leo H. Clayton on June 9, 1950. To this union were born a son, two daughters and four grandchildren: Cedric Darryl Clayton, Sylvia Denise Clayton – mother of Ahryn Renee and Khareef Jamil Clayton-Tolley, and Beverly Renee Clayton-Chaney (Theron Chaney) – mother of Theron Delano and Ashton Clay Chaney.
She began her teaching career in Alabama and retired from the Cleveland Public School system after more than 30 years of service teaching English at Addison Junior High School, Nathan Hale Junior High School and John F. Kennedy High School. She organized the Girl’s League at Addison, served as an advisor to Y-Teens, took Nathan Hale students on a tour of Washington, D.C. each year and chaired the Links Project L.E.A.D Program at Whitney Young and Nathan Hale. Teaching and working with teenagers, especially promoting self-esteem, positive values, and sound decision making was her passion and important life work. She forever changed the lives of the thousands of students and young people she taught, encouraged, and mentored in her lifetime.
Being socially active, Irma was a member of several organizations: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Alpha Wives, the Sophisticates, the A-12’s, and the Charms.
Irma loved her family, enjoyed life, and valued her many friends.
To celebrate her life and mourn her passing, she leaves behind her children, grandchildren, god daughter Elizabeth Watkins, god son Sylvester Moore, many nieces and nephews, and “family” and friends that were dear to her heart.
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