Clay Towery, R.I.P.

One of the finest among us leaves the party too soon.

His spirit flows through us.
His spirit flows through us.

Clay Towery was a theater guy.

He was an improviser.
He was a skateboarder.
He was a videogame designer.
He was an emergency medical technician.

He was, as a woman named Stephanie and a wee girl named Rowan can best tell you, a loving husband and father.

He was a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But where the most overlapping occurs in the complexly Venn-diagramed history of Clay Towery, the label most likely reads lovingkindness.

Maybe not the sort of thing you'd expect, if you didn't know him, from the man who performed shows as the perverted clown Uncle Cuddles. Maybe not what you'd reckon of the man who, on stages throughout this city, absolutely relished portraying dark and twisted villains – and did so with brilliant, nuanced commitment.

And, sure, people tend not to speak ill of the dead. But the outpourings of love in the Facebook newsfeeds and in private messages and emails and impromptu meatspace gatherings, the things being said about the man's solid decency and consideration for the people he worked and played with, of the way his humor (oh, some awfully sick humor, at times, the fiend) could disarm all but the most clinical of depressions … those things perfectly match this (let's say journalistically impartial; let's say, through the tears, professionally aloof) reporter's experience of our dear friend who, felled by a heart attack on the night of Wednesday, February 12th, is now gone from this world.

Note: There will be a memorial service for Clay Towery next Wednesday or Thursday at 7pm (details are still being wrangled) at the Cook-Walden Funeral Home on William Cannon.

The way we're so digitally connected these days, I can't imagine, if you knew Clay at all, that this situation is news to you. But maybe you're someone who didn't know him personally, but whose life was brightened by one or more of his performances – who remembers him (as one might say of Troy McClure) from such roles as Iago in Austin Shakespeare Festival's Othello or Brian in The Vortex's Shopping and Fucking or Clement Marceau in Gnap!'s Showdown. Or maybe especially as Uncle Cuddles, so weirdly brightening (with his swarthy sidekick Spiccy the Clown) the Vortex or the Jackalope or anywhere he chose to bare his grinning greasepaint face.

We're going to remember this lovely man, and miss him, until we, too, are gone.

Fuck you, reaper, and the pale horse you rode in on.

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