Irene Elizabeth Clayton (Rena Elizabeth Ogletree) was born in La Grange, GA on October 11, 1938 to Adell Ogletree and Rufus Ogletree. Irene was the second child of three siblings; Ruth O’ Render and Earl Ogletree. Her father was a painter and an interior decorator. Her mother was a homemaker and worked as a maid. Irene surrendered her life to Christ at an early age. As a young child, Irene loved to read books, the Bible and any other materials that she could find.
After she completed her daily chores she would lie across her bed and read. One of her favorite books was, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou. Irene went to school at Greenville Colored School Prima and Greenville Colored High School. She graduated from high school on May 30, 1956. She was valedictorian of her high school class.
After graduating from high school, Irene started her career as a teacher in Greenville, GA. On December 25, 1956 she accepted a marriage proposal from the love of her life, George T. Clayton. They were united in marriage on January 6, 1957, and relocated to San Diego, CA to start a life together. Two years later, Irene and George started their family. Irene had three babies in succession, George Thomas, Jr., Dwayne Earl, and Tracey Ardell. Three years later she had a fourth child Natalie Jill.
After the children were old enough, and in school, Irene continued to pursue her career as a teacher. She worked at San Diego Unified School District as a Teacher’s Aide, Student Teacher, and a Substitute Teacher. She continued with her education at San Diego City College and later transferred to San Diego State University. In May 1975, Irene graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, and she earned a State of California lifetime teaching credentials for grades K-8th grade.
Two months later she gave birth to her fifth child Eurydice Irene.
In the Fall of 1975, Irene started teaching in the National City School District. Her career spanned over twenty-five years. Irene was a passionate teacher and enjoyed educating her students. She loved to teach first and second grade students the fundamentals to read and write, and mathematics.
Throughout her teaching career she received numerous awards, “The Black Communications Center Award, San Diego County Justice Smile Award, Certificate of Appreciation for Valuable Service to National School District, National School District Professional Development Center for successful participation in the Brain Compatible learning program, and UCSD Teacher Education Program for assistance in training teachers of tomorrow.
Irene was very active in her community. She joined Christian Fellowship Congregational Church in 1980 and served in several ministries; Deaconess, The Women’s Fellowship Auxiliary, Evangelism and Diaconate Board, and Vacation Bible School. She also served as Secretary of The Diaconate Board for many years. She was a dedicated member and was a diligent servant and loved to assist others in her church community. She always visited with the “sick and shut in” members and made sure they participated in First Sunday Communion.
She received the following awards from her church: Certificate of Recognition by Reverend Dr. James Hargett for Outstanding Service as a board Member of Evangelism and Diaconate Board, Christian Fellowship Congregational Church, and Award of Appreciation for her volunteer work with Christian Fellowship UCC, Books, Balls & Bytes after school reading program. Irene volunteered and served in these programs for many years.
In 1976, Irene became a member of The Daughter of Isis Temple No. 102 and No. 104, and S.P. Johnson Sr. Chapter #78. She served in leadership role as Worthy Matron and Illustrious Commandress for The Daughters of Isis and Secretary for S.P. Johnson Sr. Chapter #78. Irene was active in many community fundraisers for mentorship, and she traveled to numerous conventions across the nation. She was a member of the chapters for over forty years.
Irene departed her earthly home on October 11, 2019 on her 81st birthday surrounded by her loving family. She will be sadly missed by her children George Thomas, Jr., Dwayne Earl, Tracey Ardell, Natalie Jill, and Eurydice Irene; three grandchildren Natasha Deanna Burton, Namar Duane Burton, and Nigel Johnathan Burton; two great-grandchildren Nylah Yemaya Irene Burton and Nasir King George Burton; one sister Ruth O' Render (Ogletree); several nieces and nephews on both family sides, cousins, and a host of friends.
Irene was preceded by her husband George Thomas Clayton, Sr., father Rufus Ogletree, mother Adell Ogletree, and brother Earl Ogletree.
We will cherish her memories in our hearts, and miss her beautiful smile, laughter, sense of humor, giving, loving, and sweet spirit.
Queen Elizabeth, Rest in Peace!
We love you and cherish you. You will forever be in our hearts.
To send flowers to Irene's family, please visit our floral section.