Clay Dahlberg Profile Photo
1946 Clay 2021

Clay Dahlberg

June 29, 1946 — February 3, 2021

Houston Clay Dahlberg, renowned western art sculptor, passed away on February 3, 2021 in Kerrville, Texas at the age of 74. \r\n\r\nClay was born on June 29, 1946 in San Antonio, Texas. His parents were Houston Clay Willson and Dorothy Compton Willson. After his father's death at an early age, his mother remarried and both Clay and his sister were adopted by their new father, Gunnard Alvin Dahlberg. Clay grew up in Houston but spent much of his time with great-grandparents and uncles who were ranchers. He developed a strong passion for everything cowboy, enjoying horses and rodeos in his youth.\r\n\r\nClay loved people and people loved him. His quick wit and caring personality brought many friendships, and his vision, creativity and entrepreneurship were evident throughout his life. As a child, he was the leader and organizer of neighborhood activities such as a club called Mountain Men, and initiated a connection with the Texas Rangers which led them to honor him on a visit to their museum in Waco. As a teenager, he started both a leather tooling business and horseshoeing business, and served as president of his high school's FFA Chapter. His home was always full of friends who gathered there after horseback riding or just to visit. Clay could tell good stories but was an excellent listener to others. \r\n\r\nClay's artistic skills were obvious even as a child when he was constantly doodling and drawing on his schoolwork. While attending Stephen F. Austin State University, he enrolled in a sculpture class and found his true medium. Through sculpture, he was able to begin creating the images of the cowboy life he loved with campfires, longhorns, Native Americans, and breaking horses.\r\n\r\nOn July 24, 1970, Clay married Mary Patricia (Pat) MacKinnon and a beautiful partnership began which lasted over 50 years. They moved to Hunt, Texas where Clay built a large studio and his career success continued. \r\n\r\nClay's work is in private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe. He was chosen to exhibit in the first all-sculpture show held at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. His work was among that of ten artists used to illustrate the book XIT, The American Cowboy . His sculpture In a Storm was awarded the Best of Show award at the Texas Cowboy Artists Association Annual Award Exhibition in 1974 and he was invited by the American Revolution Bicentennial Committee to represent the state of Texas in Philadelphia in 1976. Multiple galleries across the nation, including New York City, have featured exhibits of his work.\r\n\r\nHe was commissioned for many sculptures including: Life size portrait bust - Courthouse Square - Georgetown, Texas; 7' tall sculpture entitled Rough Men and Tough Times , Y.O. Ranch Hotel, Kerrville, Texas; Life size standing figure, portrait of Col. E.S.C. Robertson, Salado, Texas; and Life size portrait bust of Homer Bryce, Stephen F. Austin University, Nacogdoches, Texas. The story of Clay's life and artwork is found in Memories of Horses and Wars, The Sculpture of Clay Dahlberg written by Don Hedgpeth.\r\n\r\nClay and Pat both developed a zeal for fly fishing and had many wonderful trips to fish the rivers and streams in Colorado and Montana. This interest influenced his artwork and resulted in several later sculptures of fly fishermen. Clay also had a great appreciation of fine things, and collected rare antique items of interest from both the old Western days and fly fishing. \r\n\r\nAs a Type 1 diabetic from the age of 9, Clay faced lifelong battles with his health. He never let this stop his enjoyment of his work, his family, and his friends. He is survived by his loving wife, Pat, who dedicated her life to his care. Pat would like to thank the many doctors, healthcare workers, and friends who helped Clay through the years. \r\n\r\nClay is also survived by his sister Rheta Carol Reid; nephew Jason Matthew Griffith, wife Vanessa, and son Ansel; niece Jamie Elizabeth Reid; step-father Robert C Norman; brother-in-law Joe MacKinnon, wife Sherry and family: brother-in-law Jack MacKinnon, wife Cynthia, and family; and brother-in-law Jim MacKinnon, wife Joyce, and family.\r\n\r\nThe Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF) presented The Living and Giving Award to Clay in 1986. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Clay's honor to this research organization at https://www.jdrf.org, or another charity of your choice. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when it is safe for people to gather. \r\n

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