John Claitor Ogorzaly, known as Clay, died peacefully at Mt. Sinai West Hospital in New York City on Monday morning, January 29, 2018. He was the oldest child and first son of Henry John and Jewel Claitor Ogorzaly of Summit, New Jersey, and married Eileen Brennan of Manhasset, New York, joining a large Polish-American family to a large Irish-American family and creating a myriad of future uncles, aunts, and cousins. Clay and Eileen parted ways in 1990.
He is survived by his three spirited daughters, Ellen Timmer (Ted) of Garrison, New York, Kate Lofgren (Kris) of Washington, DC, and Mary Beatrice Okner (Dillon) of San Jose, California, and eight grandchildren: Henry, Jasper, Emmett, Mira, and Graham Timmer; Ingrid and Margot Lofgren; and Nolan Okner. His siblings, Catherine Lehrberg of Palo Alto, California, Elisabeth Greenberg of Severna Park, Maryland, Robert Ogorzaly of Austin, Texas, Gina Ogorzaly of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tamara Ogorzaly of Tortola, BVI, and Mary Ogorzaly of New York City mourn his passing.
Clay's gift for friendship lit his early days at St. Teresa's School in Summit and the American School of Paris, where his winning basketball team towered over their French opponents. His close circle was widened by his studies and sports at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, New Jersey, and Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Drafted into the Marines during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War, he went to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, then served two years before entering Law School at Rutgers University and teaching history at his alma mater St. Benedict's.
During his later years he became a fixture in his Sunnyside neighborhood in Queens, New York. He tended his tomatoes and squash, enjoyed participating in the New York Grand Opera as well as his church choir, attending cultural performances, and continued to develop his circle of friends through sidewalk chats, Facebook, email, school reunions, and his passion for good food, particularly in the neighborhood ethnic restaurants and delis.
In lieu of flowers donations in Clay's memory may be given to the St. Benedict's Preparatory School Drama Guild, Music program, or unrestricted fund through the Office of Advancement, St. Benedict's Preparatory School, 526 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07192.
A memorial service for Clay will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 11AM at Saint Raphael's Church, 35-20 Greenpoint Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101.