'Doing what he loved to do:' Church members remember fallen deacon

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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William Clayton, a church deacon, was 84.

SMITHFIELD, NC (WTVD) -- Churchgoers from all across Johnston County came together Monday night to honor an 84-year-old man who died in a horrific crash involving a church van Sunday.

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Troopers say the people in the van were returning from a visit to an orphanage in Oxford when it hit a deer and collided head-on with an SUV.

Two people including William Clayton -- a deacon and longtime member of First Missionary Baptist Church -- died.

"I live in Greenville but there's no way I wouldn't be here because what happens to one person in the community happens to everybody," said Sylvia Wall, a former member of the church, who attended Monday's vigil and service. "He was a very reserved, quiet, thoughtful man. I don't know anything negative to say about him. We used to talk about growing flowers and planting things and he was really enthusiastic about that."

Councilman Marlon Lee also attended the service.

"He was Mister 4H in the county," Lee said. "He was doing what he loved do and that was helping people so he will definitely is going to be missed around this area."

Investigators say the other victim of the crash was 62-year-old Debra Powell, the driver of the SUV.