Clayton A. Pitre was born on June 30, 1924 and raised in Opelousas, Louisiana in Landry Parish. His parents, Gilbert Pitre and Eugenia Lemelle Pitre were blessed with one daughter and six sons. Clayton was the fourth born child. He attended Catholic school until the ninth grade but was unable to continue due to the lack of opportunities for high school within his home community.
At the age of nineteen, Clayton was drafted into military service. He chose to join the Marine Corps and in 1943, he headed off to Jacksonville, NC and was trained at the segregated Camp Montford Point. Montford Point has since become renowned as the training ground for our nation’s first Black Marines who served valiantly in spite of the racism they experienced before, during, and after WWII. As a proud Montfort Point Marine, Clayton was first sent to Saipan, located in the North Mariana Islands. Later, in 1945, he participated in the Battle of Okinawa, Japan. By the time WWII ended, Clayton had earned the rank of Corporal and was sent to China to oversee the evacuation of the Japanese army. He was honorably discharged on February 8, 1946. On June 26, 2012, Clayton A. Pitre, along with 500 of his Montford Point Marine Brothers, received the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal for his WWII service. Clayton traveled to our nation’s capital with his wife Gloria, to receive the honor from congressional leaders.
After returning to Louisiana, Clayton spent a total of 30 days there and made the decision to join his older brothers in Seattle. He was able to gain employment at the Navy’s Fort Lawton and enrolled in Seattle’s Broadway Edison Technical School where he was able to complete his high school diploma.
In 1957, Clayton met Gloria Toney through a family friend. Gloria was visiting her sister in Seattle to help her with her newborn son. Clayton and Gloria were married in 1958 and started a family. They had three children, Clayton Jr., Michael, and Paul. He later enrolled in Seattle University and began work on his bachelor’s degree in accounting. He attended college while working as a postal clerk, selling real estate,
and maintaining active membership in Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He earned his degree in 1968 and later became the Director of Housing Development for the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). He worked tirelessly to fund, develop, and enhance low-income housing across the city of Seattle.
Clayton joined the Veterans Administration (VA) as a Real Estate Specialist and Appraiser in 1973 and worked there for eleven years until his retirement in 1984. During Clayton's retirement years, he relaxed and traveled throughout the United States with his wife Gloria visiting their children, grandchildren, and extended family members. Clayton and Gloria also traveled throughout Europe, including France on numerous occasions, and cruised the Mediterranean Seas.
In his retirement he founded the African American Dollars for Scholars Foundation along with Seattle Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. He also maintained active membership in Kappa Alpha Psi (since 1949), St. Mary’s Church, the Knights of Peter Claver, the Knights of Columbus, The Breakfast Group, the Montford Point Marines, the Marine Corp Support Group, and Seattle University Alumni Association. He also served on the board of the Central Area Senior Center and as a member of a special Commission on Senior Services for the City of Seattle. In 2015, the Seattle Seahawks honored Corporal Clayton Pitre by selecting him to raise the 12th Man Flag at Century Link field. The 12th Man honor was in recognition of his Congressional Gold Medal and for being a member of the first cohort of Black Marines. Among all his accomplishments, Clayton A. Pitre, Sr. was most proud of the work he did to uplift Black youth by helping to provide them opportunities to further their education.
Clayton is survived by his three sons, Clayton Jr. (Felicia), Michael (Erika), Paul (Charisse); grandchildren Michaelia, Aaron, Daniel, Cameron, Clayton Brycen, Gabrielle, and Chase, and great grandchildren Nathaniel and Theodore. Clayton is also survived by his brother-Edgar, his sister-in-law Winifred Toney; nieces Sheryl Toney Lorenzo, Michelle Williams, Carolyn, Shelia, Ramona, Marilyn, Sharon, Garnett, and Teresa; nephews Hannigan, Robert Williams, Steven Williams, Wilfred, Robert, Dwayne, Edgar Jr.,
Lawrence and Keith. Clayton was blessed with a host of extended family in Louisiana, California, Illinois, and Texas.
A virtual funeral/burial to honor the life of Clayton will be held on February 10th, 2021 at 12pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to the service. A large outdoor "Celebration of Clayton's LIfe" is being planned for September 4, 2021. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Clayton’s honor to the Seattle Chapter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) https://uncf.org/local-offices/seattle.