Sylvia I. (Falconer) Clay, 96, Founded Clay School of Dance

Sylvia_ClaySylvia I. (Falconer) Clay, 96, of Haverhill, died Monday morning, July 10.

She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Feb. 12, 1921, daughter of the late James and Dora (Gordon) Falconer and was educated in Glasgow, Scotland. She began her dance training with the British Ballet Organization and received her certification to teach dance.

She met her husband, Linwood R. Clay during World War II, and married in 1947. In 1954 she opened the Sylvia Clay School of Dance Education, later renamed the Clay School of Dance in Haverhill. Clay was a highly respected and successful dance instructor for 45 years in Haverhill where she taught generations of students in ballet, tap, jazz and Scottish dancing. The exceptional training her students received enabled them to be accepted at prestigious ballet schools such as the Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Academy of Dance in London, England.

Throughout her career, Clay also introduced the culture of Scottish dancing, and her students were invited to perform at international festivals. She was extremely compassionate and generous, helping many students and their families with her random acts of kindness. Clay was a member of the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston for more than 50 years. She was also a member of the Scottish Clan, Haverhill. In her later years, she enjoyed her visits from the “Ballerina Club” comprised of former students whom she loved dearly.

She was predeceased by her siblings Gordon and John Falconer, Vivian Callendar and Alice Sharp. In 2015, she was also predeceased by her husband, Lt. Col. Linwood R. Clay.
She is survived by her daughter, Laurie L. Clay of Haverhill.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her graveside service Friday morning, July 14, at 11, in Linwood Cemetery, Haverhill. There will be no calling hours. Arrangements are by H.L. Farmer and Sons Funeral Homes, Haverhill and Bradford. Contributions in her memory may be made to Sylvia’s favorite charity, The Wounded Warrior Project, Wounded Warrior Project, PO BOX 758516, Topeka, KS 66675.

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