A Small Box with a Big Thomson Connection
Article by Tom Holley
Captain Forrest Thurston "Rip" Clary
Judge Edward Watson "Buck" Clary,
Father and Son Memorials
Our story begins with two totally isolated events: First, on Thursday, July 8, 2021, Edward Watson Clary, Sr., son of Capt. Forrest Thurston Clary, passed away in Belton, South Carolina. Secondly, the following day my wife Karen and I drove down to her Duke family reunion in Adel, Georgia. Adel is located approximately 30 miles north of Valdosta and has a population similar to Thomson. That night our family met at the Company 5 Catfish House outside of Adel near the Reed Bingham State Park.
(First Coincidence) While waiting on the front porch of the restaurant decorated with Americana memorabilia, I noticed an old wooden crate. The contents of that crate were to be shipped to “Mrs. Forest T. Clary, Thompson, Georgia. For - Captain Forest T. Clary, USMC, ——Deceased.” The words Forrest and Thomson were misspelled. Since Thomson is often misspelled, this got us all on our feet to inspect the box more carefully and to take some photos.
(Second Coincidence) Thursday, July 15, in The McDuffie Progress, I noticed the obituary of Edward Watson “Buck” Clary, Sr. After reading, I found Buck to be the son of Captain Forrest Thurston Clary. Captain Clary’s plane, while on a routine over-water navigation flight, crashed off Catalina Island in the Pacific Ocean. His body was never recovered. At the time “Buckshot” was only eighteen months old. Buck followed in his father’s footsteps, became a marine, then made the rare switch to the US Army to join the intelligence service and later became an attorney and judge.
(Third Coincidence) Sunday, July 18, during Sunday School condolences were given on the death of Mr. Buck Clary to someone in the back of the room but I could not see who that family member was. After class I was introduced to Mrs. Mary Georgia Mohr, who found my story quite interesting.
(Fourth Coincidence) Later that day my wife spoke again with Mrs. Mohr who was eager to retrieve the crate for her family. My wife called her cousin, Buddy Duke who is the mayor of Adel, to see if he thought the restaurant owner would be willing to sell this relic to the family. He knew the owner well, Mr. Ashley Way, and believed he would be glad to give it to the family, which he did. After numerous communications, Mayor Duke brought the crate to his work office and then it was transported to Thomson by Mrs. Mohr’s son.
(Fifth Coincidence) At the time of Buck Clary’s death it was decided to hold the memorial service a month later on August 14. Unknowingly, this later date allowed time for the crate to be discovered, researched and delivered to Thomson so it could be presented as a surprise gift to the family during the memorial service.
(Conclusion) Throughout, this saga I have referenced the many coincidences. But, I must go back mid-story when Mrs. Mohr commented that she felt like this crate had surfaced after 70+ years for a reason; God works in mysterious ways. Her daughter expanded on this thought at the memorial service saying that she believed God was conveying to the family that the father and son were being reunited in heaven. I will go a step further in saying that perhaps this is God’s way of helping this family heal after the untimely and tragic death of Captain Clary in the Pacific and the great loss of Judge Edward “Buck” Clary to the greater community.
Holley, Thomas E. "A Small Box with a Big Thomson Connection." The McDuffie Progress Newspaper, Thomson, GA, August 26, 2021. Community, page 5A.
The Clary crate was on display at the Thomson-McDuffie Museum in Thomson during August-October 2021.