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|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Missouri's 1st district
January 3, 1969 - January 3, 2001
|Frank M. Karsten|
William Lacy Clay
April 30, 1931
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Children||3, including Lacy|
|Education||Saint Louis University (BS)|
William Lacy Clay (born April 30, 1931) is an American politician from Missouri. As Congressman from Missouri's first district, he represented portions of St. Louis in the U.S. House of Representatives for 32 years.
Clay was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Luella S. (Hyatt) and Irving Charles Clay. He graduated from Saint Louis University. Clay served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955, and he was a St. Louis alderman from 1959 to 1964. Clay served 105 days in jail for participating in a civil rights demonstration in 1963. Prior to entering Congress, Clay held jobs first as a real estate broker and later as a labor coordinator. He worked for the union of St. Louis city employees from 1961 to 1964 and then with a Steamfitters Union until 1967.
Clay was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1968. He became an advocate for environmentalism, labor issues, and social justice. Clay faced ethics charges in the 1970s for billing the government on auto trips while flying on airlines, and the House banking scandal revealed that Clay had 328 overdrafts. This can be misleading, however, as House checks did not bounce; they were honored because the House Bank provided overdraft protection to its account holders, and the Office of the Sergeant at Arms covered the House Bank with no penalties. In 1993, Clay helped to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act.
From 1991 until the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1995, Clay chaired the House Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service. In 2000, he retired from the House and his son Lacy Clay succeeded him.
In 1996, the William L. Clay Center for Molecular Electronics (now the Center for Nanoscience) was dedicated in his honor on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Clay is also the founder of the William L. Clay Scholarship and Research Fund, which awards college scholarships to high school seniors living in Missouri's first congressional district. The Fund, which is a 501(c)3 organization, has awarded scholarships since 1985.
Clay has written several works of non-fiction.