Remembering Clay: Messages from Family and Friends

In 2013, I moved to Cincinnati from New York, to open an investment banking practice in Cincinnati. I had never lived in Cincinnati, knew absolutely no one and stumbled into a Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Hyatt Regency where 700 people were having lunch. I saw one open seat at a table near the front and I sat down. I introduced myself to the person on my left and it was Clay. I had inadvertantly joined Clay's table and he was the keynote speaker. Clay politely got up, made his address and allowed me to listen from my front row seat. I learned a lot about Clay that day and after his presentation, he invited me to Aileron, which I accepted. Going thru the Aileron process, I met many great companies, was invited to join company boards and made many lasting friends and relationships that came from that chance meeting 10 years ago. I was always appreciative of Clay's message and purpose and his willingness to extend appreciation and assistance to others.

~ Leo Whitt

Clay could speak for hours about his lessons in business, philanthropy and growing assets. However, my favorite conversations with him were hearing him speak about his children, grandchildren and his excursions such as trips to Alaska. I always thought he was a man who truly enjoyed life and having people around him. He always remembered what was important and in that. left a legacy of how to enjoy the world around him. Rest in peace and thank you for the life lessons.

~ Bob Reeves

I wanted to share my condolences to the Mathile family on their loss of one of the greatest persons ever lived. I also wanted to acknowledge his family who are all Good people with high Values and Integrity. I have had the pleasure of working with Clay and the family for over 30 years, starting with Iams in 1985 and other business interest to include Riverain, ooVoo, Aileron and The Mathile Institute. Clay’s belief in people to do the best they can be and treating people with dignity and respect was apparent in everything he did. An example of this was his philosophy on paying employees more than other companies and in return, employees will more than pay you back in loyalty, quality and productivity. I recall my employment interview with him in 1985 after a brief telephone conversation with his daughter Kate on Standards of Performance; he said Iams will be a Billion dollar company someday. When I asked what the sales were, he indicated around 35 million; I then knew he was a Big Dreamer. Iams exceeded a Billion about 15 years later, and the reason to “Dream no little Dreams”. I and many other people have learned from Clay from his actions and beliefs on family, faith, people and business and are grateful to have known him.

~ Richard Liette

I thank God for Clay, Mary and the Mathile Family. Clay was an incredible man with a very loving and generous heart. He and Mary were so involved with the moms, children and staff at The Glen at St. Joseph where I worked. I trully admired and respected Clay and all that he stood for. Our Glen staff always felt welcomed at Aileron. Clay will never be forgotten for his legacy, teachings and kind heart. I will continue to keep the family in my prayers. God bless, keep and comfort you all.

~ Olivia Harris

My favorite memory of Clay is him describing how Iams invested in the education of their staff, even when that education didn't directly benefit Iams, but did benefit the individual. When asked why, he spoke of the importance of helping the person, which is clearly a direct reflection of Clay's heart. Separately, while this isn't a "memory" of Clay, what I think of most is the enormous impact he's had on business owners.... helping them through implementing professional management, establishing boards, developing strategic plans, etc.. While I'm certain the economic impact of his work has been enormous, I'm even more certain the individual/family impact has been even bigger.

~ Bryan Hogan

Clay Mathile was one of the most genuine people that I have had the honor to meet. Clay, and his family, impacted the lives of my family and me tremendously (miraculously) during a very trying, stressful, and uncertain time in our business lives. I learned tremendously from Clay during the two years that we interacted with each other. My wife, children, and I often reflect on Clay’s involvement in our lives fondly, and it is something that we will never forget, and will never take for granted. We pray for God’s perfect will and blessings on the entire Mathile family. This life is but a vapor, but because of the perfect living sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is our Lord and Savior, we look forward to eternal life with him forever and ever.

~ Veit Von Parker

Clay Mathile was one of the most genuine people that i have had the honor to meet. Clay, and his family, impacted the lives of my family and me tremendously (miraculously) during a very trying, stressful, and uncertain time in our business lives. I learned tremendously from clay during the two years that we interacted with each other. My wife, children, and i often reflect on clay's involvement in our lives fondly, and it is something that we will never forget, and will never take for granted. 

~ Veit Von Parker

Me, a young man finishing trade school, ready to work, wanting to show off my new skills and talent, I had no idea what the world had in store for me. Only because of the bragging and encouragement of many Iams employees, did I find my way to the doorstep of the Iams company. After a decade of countless hours, with great coworkers, demanding training, and self-confidence building, I was off to entrepreneurship. A young man has no concept of the knowledge swallowed over a decade of working under great leadership, leading this young man to a path of 27 years of self-employment, a strong successful business, wonderful employees, and a phenomenal family. Thanks for great leadership during an impressionable time in my life.

~ John Bordenkircher

Clay never traveled to Guatemala with Mary but he was always aware of Mary and her travels there and made every provision for her safety in a land so affected with problems and danger. All of our Sisters have held Mary and the family in our prayers these days, knowing that such a loss leaves an ache that never quite goes away. From a distance, we are grateful to Clay for his vision and passion and generosity. And we are grateful to the family for the ways in which you have embraced his vision and carried it forward. May you know many blessings for the ways in which you are a blessing for others.

~ Sister Kris Schrader

Mr. Mathile did so much for the community. Thanks to the support of the Mathile Family Foundation, we've been able to reach every preschool student at the Marilyn E. Thomas Center in Trotwood with seasonal Nature Storytime programs each year, sharing an encounter with our wildlife ambassadors as well as reading a book, a copy of which is left in every classroom!

~ Deb Oexmann

Sending our deepest sympathy and condolences for your loss. Clay’s belief in visionary leadership, commitment to the community, and the impact he has had on countless lives will never be forgotten.

~ Jennifer Howard, Teach For America Ohio

The first time I met Clay Mathile was at a Newt Gingrich political rally. Clay came over to me and introduced himself. Though we only chatted for a few minutes I personally remember him as being a very nice gentleman and I was honored that he took the time to come over and say hi to me. Though that was the only time I personally met Clay Mathile, I still feel that I know Clay through all the GREAT things he has done for the Dayton Community. Making IAMS a major player in the pet food industry, sharing his business expertise in setting up the Aileron Business School, and something that is near and dear to my heart, he, and his wife (Mary) setting up the Mathile Family Foundation. I want to personally thank the fine folks at the Mathile Family Foundation for offering me guidance in helping me establish the Charles D. Berry Foundation. I feel Clay and Mary’s influence while still working with the fine people at the Mathile Family Foundation to this day. I also enjoyed reading Clay’s book “Dream No Little Dreams.” This book was so well written that it almost made feel like I was living Clay Mathile adventures life. My condolences goes out to Clay Mathile’s family and to personally thank Clay for the great things that you did for the Dayton Community and are now doing for GOD and his son Jesus up in Heaven!

~ Charles D. Berry

For me, offering condolences in this case, seems like such an understatement. I struggle with the words to express my feelings. Like so many others, I was a recipient of his inspiration on many occasions. One of the great joys of my life was and is the thirty two years I have spent in service to St Mary Development Corporation. I joined the Board at his urging and never once in all those years did he miss an opportunity to be updated on the progress of the organization and to express his appreciation for the fulfillment of it's mission. A true friend indeed.

~ Richard Blessing

I'm Kathy Fisher, Peg Mathile's Sister. When I first met Clay, I was in my late 20's and wanted to start a Real Estate business where I owned the properties and either leased them to others or renovated and sold the properties. I had no idea where to start. All I knew is that every time there was a family gathering, I was learning from Clay. I was amazed at how differently he thought about the world, business and life. I just wanted to learn more.

When Clay published his book, Dream No Little Dreams, I had already started gearing up my Real Estate business. I had mentors, but no one who thought about business the way Clay thought about it. While reading this book, for the first time, I realized that 'stuff happens' to everyone who has a business and I just have to move through and get to the other side of the issues that appear. Before reading this book, I thought it was a competence issue with me rather than 'this stuff happens in all businesses'. This book was a game changer not only in my business, but in my life.
Aileron has also been a true gift in my life. I learned so much from this education center and definitely think differently about my business.

I can't say enough about how Clay influenced the quality of my life. I believe the world is a better place because Clay was here. I want to thank Tim for sharing his Dad with our family. We are so fortunate.

A big THANK YOU to Clay!

~ Kathy Fisher

In the short time I knew Mr. Mathile he always treated everyone with dignity and respect. Without knowing it, he inspired so many around him without trying. My condolences to The Mathile Family.

~ Dareld Osborne

My first memory of Mr. Mathile takes me back 50 years. It was shortly after he moved his family from our hometown of Napoleon, OH to Dayton. My parents shared that Clay and MaryAnn were my godparents, which wasn't something a 5 or 6 year old understood. But they opened their home and welcomed us in, and they had kids for me to play with in the basement! Shortly thereafter we moved 2,000 miles away. That distance and my parents need for a fresh start resulted in over three decades passing before I'd see them again. My father had passed away when I was a young adult and now, over a decade later, I was married with three young boys of my own. I longed to know more about who my dad was when he was my age - when he was starting his family. Clay and MaryAnn again opened their home to me and shared their memories. I had the opportunity to speak privately with Clay for sometime that afternoon. We talked about my young family, my mom, his family (of which he was so proud), my grandmother (who he adored), and finally my dad. I didn't know Clay as a business leader or philanthropist, but that day I knew him as the proud father and friend to my dad that he was. I suspect my experience was not unique, which speaks even louder to the man he was. His legacy lives on in every life he touched, including mine. My deepest and most sincere condolences to his family.

~ Casey Denny

I have had the opportunity to meet Clay on a few occasions. He, his company, Aileron and family members have been recipients of the Torch Award of the BBB. In fact Aileron was the first recipient of the Torch Award and the award was to recognize the efforts of people like John Patterson, the Wright Brothers and Clay Mathile. These men helped Dayton reinvent itself through good and bad economic times. But the first thing that comes to mind was at a community forum where everyone shared their name and what their current profession was. This was just after Clay sold Iams. When he stood up and introduced himself he said "I'm Clay Mathile and I am currently unemployed". Everyone had a good laugh at that. Clay leaves an incredible legacy that will forever impact the Dayton area and world.

~ John North

I have had the privilege of knowing and talking with Clay for the past 10 years. I always appreciated his kind presence and eagerness to think through any challenge. In the middle of it all I consistently experienced support and I always learned something new! Rest well, Clay

~ Kent Rhodes

My name is Lance Fancher, I am the President/ CEO for Shawntech Communications. In 1997 My wife Amelia and myself attended the Course for President with the Center for Entrepeneur Education. Bill Matthews hosted the two-day Course; Clay spent time emphasizing the importance of having a mentor during his portion of the class. After the Course was over, we were all standing around conversing and I walked up to Clay and introduced myself. During our conversation I asked Clay if he would mentor me and he paused for a few second looking a little astonished, he then proceeded to tell me that I shocked him because no one hand ever approached him after he had discussed the importance of having a mentor and he let me know that he was very impressed. Clay said of course I will mentor you; he gave me the number for his secretary, after which I spent two years under his tutelage. This time with him changed my understanding of how you Lead a successful organization. Best Wishes to Mary and the family. Thank you for sharing a very incredible man with us.

~ Lance Fancher

I loved seeing Clay at the UD basketball games. He was always SO relaxed, especially when the Flyers were winning! I talked to him at the games, typically during the halftime events, and he was consistently gracious and engaging. I/we all are going to miss his thoughtful and warm presence. He truly made a difference in all our lives...and most certainly mine!

~ Thomas Lasley

Contribute to Clay’s Legacy

Friends and family are encouraged to share memories, stories, or condolences. Those seeking other ways to contribute can support Clay’s philanthropic legacies, Aileron or The Mathile Institute, at the link below.

Contribute to Clay’s Legacy