A Rememberance for Clay

A celebration of life was held on August 31, 2008 in Lander, Wyoming. It was a beautiful day and many great folks were able to attend and help us remember a life well lived.

Some fun stories were told and if you have any additional stories involving Clay and his "whacky ways" we'd love to have you share them on this blog.

Here is a meditation prayer which beautifully summarizes our (and Clay's) wishes for all who were part of the celebration and read this blog.

May all beings be happy, content and fulfilled.
May all beings be healed and whole.
May all have whatever they want and need.
May all be protected from harm and free from fear.
May all beings enjoy inner peace and ease.
May all be awakened, liberated and free.

May there be peace in the world, and throughout the universe.

Search Efforts

For the official information on the search efforts please visit: http://clayrubanosearch.com/

Our special thanks to Margaret Goodro for setting up this site!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Message from Della Lonner

Just looking at Clay's picture on this blog makes me smile. Clay has such good energy about him that he makes everyone smile. I have known Clay and Rachel since 2001, from working in the beautiful Many Glacier valley. They are like family to me even though I've only known them for 7 years. The summers I worked the same position as Clay were most fun! He taught me to be professional on the radio as well as all the ins and outs of good communication.

People would come in to the ranger station when I was working and with a shocked and disappointed look on their faces say, "Oh. You're not Clay. Where is he? When will he be back?" At first I was offended but then I realized that these people had bonded with Clay after only talking to him for a few minutes! I would just smile and tell them that he'd be back in a few days. They would accept their defeat and slump out the door to wait out the non-Clay days at the ranger station. I told Clay about this occuring and he just laughed his cheery and yet humble laugh.

I feel fortunate to have had a job where I looked forward to going to work. The reason was because of good people like Clay and Rachel! They make life fun and you just want to be around them as much as possible.The other day a lady was telling me about a friend of hers who went on a hike and did not show up. A month later he made it out. He had fallen and hit his head and had amnesia. He didn't know where he was but he made it out. Crazy things happen in life.

Clay and Rachel, you are in my thoughts and prayers daily.

I love you both!-Della

Monday, December 17, 2007

Message from Lisa Ferber

My favorite memories/images of Clay are crossing paths with him skate skiing on the Willy road at McMurdo and also Clay and Rachel glowing together at Sunday brunch in the galley surrounded by good friends…

As so many of you have already said, what a bright star Clay will always be! Clay has been so wonderfully encouraging of my career path/soul searching especially this past year. He always has great recommendations of articles to read, things to think about, tools to use, etc. When I was so tired of trying to figure it out and I wanted to just sign up for a school program, Clay encouraged me to keep exploring alternatives for just a bit longer. Only because of this encouragement did I continue to search and am now on a path I would not have before considered. Thanks, Clay! I especially think of one nugget of wisdom that he passed along to me…that when we prioritize our lives, we should aim to do those activities that are our highest priorities at the time of day that we are most productive. I think of this each day and try to make it happen because it is seriously good advice! Also, as someone also said before, his “checking in” emails come at exactly the right times. Of course, Clay has insight, ideas, and resources for many other life areas besides career stuff, including broken hearts and illnesses.

I have been wanting to write to this blog for some time now, but it felt hard to find the words. Indeed, this situation of having Clay still missing has shaken my foundation of seemingly cliché ideals including “everything happens for a reason” and “things work out exactly as they should.” Nothing can explain this situation to me. This situation has given me understanding of some of the people whom I did not hear from when I was sick a few years ago. I now understand how it feels to want to express something, but to feel unable to find the right words.

Rachel & Clay, you are in my thoughts more often than you could know.



Monday, December 10, 2007

It is hard not to smile when we think of Clay!

Like many, I want to say something about Clay to help put a smile on many disbelieving faces. Thinking back over the years there were so many profound things that Clay and I had dialogs and emails about. They ranged from the state of the universe to the movie, “What the Bleep…” No doubt that I was not the only one.

Back in 1995, I met Clay when out of the blue I received a call from him wanting to meet Wendy and I to discuss an idea he had about experiential learning for corporate teams. We had never met this guy, but when we did meet at a micro brewery in San Diego, he already knew more about our website and business plan than we did. Wendy later shared that she thought he was an investigative reporter researching us. Her thoughts quickly quelled because of his sincerity, warmth and that laugh. Eventually, when he was at RMOC, we did work together on some projects that were not only great fun, but very effective team programs.

Rachel, rarely did Clay really talk about himself in depth to me. He was not secretive, but just quiet about himself. One day, I receive the rare phone call and we talked a bit about him feeling that he was searching for something or someone. It was intense and it bothered him enough to call. Many emails later, it was clear that it was someone he was searching for. I remember that he talked a lot about the book Wendy and I wrote about how we met and the defining moments that came quickly for us. Typical Clay, he wanted to analyze all the details. I actually got mad at him and wrote this lengthy email about how he should stop trying to figure it out and start making “left turns” in his life when everything logical told him to turn right. Well he did, and it was not too long later that I received an email about this person named Rachel. Clay was ecstatic!

Like others, I remember the famous email from “the ice” announcing the engagement and I could feel his sense of adventure, excitement and completeness. I clearly remember, as if it was today, feeling Clay’s sense of being whole and complete.

Rachel, Wendy and I believe that there is nothing greater that one person can offer another than to make them whole and complete. We know for sure that you are that person for Clay.

All of our love to you Rachel. Hope to see you soon.

Bob Root & Wendy Steele

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's the little things . . .

Though Clay and Rachel have been on my mind constantly ever since I received the news that he was missing, I waited to write for fear my post might not be profound or meaningful enough to add to the blog. I decided to write anyway because regardless of how well I knew Clay, he has touched my life. It may not be profound to others, but Clay enriched my life through the little things: by being himself, sharing experiences in the Many Glacier community, and by making me smile.

Every time Clay comes to mind, I see him smiling, standing tall in his green and gray ranger uniform, in charge of the Many Glacier Ranger Station. I say "in charge" because he ran that place like no one else (no offense to my other friends who have also done outstanding work behind that desk). I'm sure he got just as tired of all the same questions as everyone else does, but he never let that show to the visitors. He was professional, knowledgeable, and pleasant in every visitor contact I ever saw him make. Every time I was able to help him in any capacity he always thanked me with a smile, a nod of his head, and a, "Thank you for your help in these matters." He made coming to the Ranger Station a joy and always said something that sent me away with a smile on my face. Most recently, this summer, Clay made me smile (maybe even blush) by bringing to my mind a Nattie he remembered me receiving years ago. (There are some things we'd like people to forget.) :) He "oohed and ahhed" with us at the Fourth of July, laughed and imbibed with us at the Margaritaville party, and was always fun to talk with whenever our paths crossed whether in the Ranger Station, the laundry room, or at a potluck.

Clay is an important member of our Glacier community, a group of people who share a special bond. From what I have read, it appears that Clay was important to many other groups and individuals as well. Thank you for your impact on all of us, Clay. We all miss you greatly and are thinking of you with a smile.

Search update

A stalwart and devoted crew spent Tues, Wed & Thurs searching a few areas of interest as reported by the previous dog teams. No new clues were found and this likely ends the search effort through the winter, unless any major new developments emerge. If people would like specifics or are considering their own search up the canyon, please check in with Capt. David Good at the Sheriff's Office as they will remain the primary point of contact.

Margaret Goodro is planning a search in the spring and if you are interested in participating, please contact her at: mlgoodro@yahoo.com.

Rachel is currently down in Colorado Springs to be with her family. Please feel free to send her an email or to post your thoughts on this blog.

Thank you to everyone for the caring and support you have shown during these difficult times. Clay and Rachel are in all of our thoughts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Message from Michelle Cummings

I met Clay in 1998 at RMOC. What a gift he is to so many people! We have stayed in touch over the years and I always enjoy his smile and big warm laugh. I enjoyed rafting with him down Browns Canyon and facilitating groups with him. He is such a talented outdoorsman and I was always inspired by the ‘risks’ he would take. Many thoughts and prayers to you Rachel and everyone else who is touched by Clay.


Michelle Cummings

Message from Kat Smithhammer

It was over a year ago, that I was invited to a beer drinking opportunity at the RM and met Clay. Quickly, we engaged in sharing leadership beliefs, theories, models & concepts. Clay got out his books; I took eager notes and borrowed a couple for the weekend.

Periodically, we exchange titles, thoughts and leadership quests. Perfectly this summer, our work paths joined at NOLS PRO.

Clay has reminded to me to give way to the coincidental encounters, risk the conversation and to always invest the time to learn from one another.

Clay -- I am forever grateful!

Kat Smithhammer

Kat R. Smithhammer
Professional Training Program Coordinator
National Outdoor Leadership School

Monday, December 3, 2007

.......Beyond the summit of Earth................

"Beyond the summit of Earth" was a phrase Clay used in an e-mail informing me of another friend's passing last July. True to his nature, he seemed to suggest that even in tragedy comes the certainty of progress - of reaching further and higher.

In the seasons we worked in McMurdo together, Clay and I had opportunity during late night shifts for occasional, musings, speculations, stories, and of course, frequent laughter. During all those exchanges, I never knew him to utter a single negative, sarcastic, or cynical comment. That simply wasn't in his repertoire. Instead, he seemed perennialy focused on possibilities, solutions, and the never-ending process of discovery that life offers. From the posts of others, it's clear he lived to act on those possibilites. His upbeat, proactive outlook clearly influenced and lifted the spirits of everyone around him. By that measure, it would be difficult to imagine a more balanced and successful life.

One of my strongest core beliefs is that those who've passed beyond our terrestrial reach remain with us in the ways in which we do and see things differently than we might have had we not come under their influence. From that perspective, I know Clay will always remain with us, and I thank him for that gift.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So many fond memories!

I first met Clay in 1992 on my first deployment to McMurdo. We flew down together and I have a clear memory of Clay arriving on station that year and a number of folks really excited to see his return. I thought to myself, this guy must be something special to have so many so happy to see him. We became good friends over the next few years and traveled through Tasmania in 1995. That trip was a true testiment to Clay's devotion to his friends; my behavior was less than stellar. Every time I think of that trip I can't help but laugh about Clay's concern for my safety and my always rude response - I never understood why Clay would ever talk to me again - like I said he's a devoted friend.

I had known of Rachel for years before meeting Clay, we have a mutual friend, but we had never met. I then had the honor to meet Rachel through Clay. When they got engaged on the ice I told Rachel that two of my favorite people in the whole world were getting married - and I really, really meant it.

Clay, where ever you are - please know that each of us with you today and forever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nov 28 update

We WILL be having a new large scale search effort next Mon, Tues & Wed. We are hoping to gather as many people as possible from out of town and in Lander to be involved in this search. If you have any amount of interest, please email or call Mary Schneider ASAP so she can start arranging the search effort, etc... Her email is: mary_schneider@hotmail.com and her phone number is: 208-726-5588.

We still have people working on meals, places to stay, etc... so the sooner you let us know you are coming, the sooner we can arrange this for you.

We had very little snow last night although temperatures are cold. Please be prepared for hiking in slick terrain and in temps below zero (teens and single digits).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Update Nov 27

1. Today we have 1 dog, 1 handler and 2 searchers in the field. They are searching a slabby/cliffy area NW of the falls. For those familiar with the lettering system - they are roughly along the left edge of section R.

2. For those interested in giving money, there are 2 options:
1- for search operations, make the check/MO, etc... out to "The Clay Rubano Search Fund"
2- for giving to Rachel directly, make it out to "Rachel Jenkins"
Please use the information given in yesterday's "logistics" for bank contact info.

3. Weather permitting, we would like to conduct another large search effort in two areas this weekend. A storm is blowing in as I write this, although we don't yet know the amount/type of precipitation expected. I will post an update tomorrow to let you know whether this weekend is a go. In the meantime, if you are likely to come out for the search this weekend, please contact Mary Schneider at: mary_schneider@hotmail.com and let her know your interest and needs.

Rachel continues to thank everyone for all of their help, love and support.

Monday, November 26, 2007


1. Several people have asked about donations:

For the Search:
Atlantic City Federal Credit Union
"Clay Rubano Search Fund"
704 W. Main St
Lander, WY 82520

People have also asked about donations to support Rachel personally. I will get back to you as soon as we have established a plan for this.

2. Search operations
Today, 1 dog, 1 handler and 1 searcher are out in the field looking at an area relatively close to the parking lot that hasn't been scoured. Depending on what they find and also the forecast for the next week, we may try to put together one last push to search a couple of areas. If this were to happen, it would likely involve 2 days - either this weekend or early next week. As soon as I get the information on this, I will send out an email and post to the blog.

3. If you would like to post to this blog, please contact Clay's brother Todd Rubano. You must send him your email and then he can add you to the able to post list. His email is: todd@newwavecarwash.com.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Stars, Clay, Stars

I keep thinking I have so much to tell Clay when he comes home. Like how all the communities of people we love are united together during this most horrible of times. It's always been a dream of ours to get all our friends from around the world together. Clay, it's happening. They're here. Some in spirit, some in body. And it's incredible. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for everything you've done, from prayers and meditations, emails, phone calls, helping search, taking care of me ... there are no words for my appreciation. I couldn't survive this without you all.

It's a brilliantly clear night tonight. Look, Clay! Stars! Stars, Clay, stars!

May the rattlesnake and screech owl amuse your reverie...

This is a favorite quote of Clay's:

"May your trails be dim, lonesome, stony, narrow, winding and only slightly uphill. May the wind bring rain for slickrock potholes fourteen miles on the other side of yonder blue ridge. May God's dog serenade your campfire, may the rattlesnake and screech owl amuse your reverie, may Great Sun dazzle your eyes by day and the Great Bear watch over you by night."

From the preface to 'Beyond the Wall' ~ Edward Abbey

Clay inspires me as he inspires others. One of the most significant events in my life was catapulted into reality because of his friendship. My life is deeper and more purposeful due to crossing his path. We have unfinished plans, Clay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

clay bob

Clay wanted to meet me, after he had heard some of the avant gart phone messages I would leave for Fireman Dan.
Dan met me in a nursing home, while he was visiting a fellow firefighter who was losing a battle with cancer.
I was just institutionalized there because I was a quadriplegic.

Anyway, I fought my way out .and had the great joy of experiencing clay bob.

Prior to my injury/quadriplegia, I worked ranches in Montana and Wyoming.

Clay recognized what I lost after my injury, but also, encouraged me in the abilities I had renewed.
I went back to college and got involved in theater arts. I became a professional face painting clown.
Clay was there for me. He came to many plays;from Cinderella to Strindberg.
Rachael, my heart breaks for you, and all of us who miss his physical presence. I still see him in every star, plant, cloud, and miracle of life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clay was a gift and an inspiration to us all...

Clay lived life the the fullest setting fear of failure or judgement aside. I learned a great deal from him when I finally understood his passion for life and love of all things great and small. Clay truly lit his candle and loved every flicker. You are in my heart forever Clay!

"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to fuure generations."
George Bernard Shaw

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clay's Smile and Laugh

All afternoon I've heard Clay saying my name in his always friendly, super cheerful way while greeting me with a huge smile and equally large hug. Then I hear his infectious laugh. It makes me smile and laugh...and cry.

When we were working together at RMOC he would say, "Tastes good and good for you". I think he mainly said that when we were drinking, but also during Leigh's Mediterranean night. Remember the theme parties...how about signing our names on the sub-floor before installing the new carpet in the store/office. Clay made those days even more memorable. I can see him walking around the property with his address book, pen, and paper. He was always writing a letter or postcard to someone. He was training Beth in our raft down Browns Canyon when I fell out of the boat and swam for the first and only time. He taught me how to find the constellation Orion.

Several years ago Clay suggested that Jonathan and I spend some time on the ice. I wasn't so sure, but Clay said I would be fine because they had plenty of videos to watch. Always the optimist...always finding the brightest side to everything.

I can see his smile; I can hear his laugh...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Living in a box with no sides.

So much to think about. I just spoke to Dan. You know Dan L. Lost his housse a few weeks ago in SD. That was the phone call conversation with Clay, last week. And of, course, how to get Dan a perfect relationship and how to get a career connection with Clay's knowledge with my own.

That's how most of my conversations with Clay went. Either laughing so hard I'd just about peed in my pants or deep in career building, knowledge enhancing, wilderness experiences. You know the stories. The one where Clay was on a wilderness training exersion and some guy places underwear over his head, inside his sleeping bag, so the blood sucking bugs won't get to him. Laughed so hard I may actually may have peed in my pants.

Then there was the time I was a house cleaner and dislocated my shoulder. Clay calles the day after, just in time to get in his car and show up on my doorstep. Then helps me clean houses for a week. Yup, that's Clay. Always there when you need him, always leaving before he out-welcomed his stay. As if he could ever do that!

So, as I cannot come to Lander to look myself, (just had some surgery and cannot walk on anything but flat ground), I have added Clay to my blog, www.athleticexcellence.net, emailed people all over the world, to send good collective thoughts and vibes, and I have even emailed Oprah. If anyone can send some sort of powerful collective vibe, well, Oprah can. Worth a shot. Just like turing over one more rock.

I will continue to send thoughts and vibes. I will continue to remember the stupid songs he always sung. Thankfully he didn't choose to be a singer.... but I will keep the faith. Because, the stength of collective thought is as powerful as it gets. And I'm not a religous person.

Back to turning over rocks.

A Friend to So Many

I was fortunate enough to meet Clay during a formidable transitional time in life. We were both new-college hires and started work the same week at General Dynamics in San Diego. We were both 21...from AZ...excited about having gotten a good job straight out of college...and both completely ignorant about aerospace. We clung to each other that first year of yuppiehood...and despite the years that followed of each of us pursuing other paths...both of us leaving the corporate world...venturing more into outdoor/contract work...we never lost the closeness that comes from sharing a major personal growth period in life. Clay has been "my rock" for many years. His phone calls and emails always popping up at just the right time. His continual efforts to show that friendships are important to him and that no matter what the distance he always lets you know he hasn't forgotten you. Although his sense of humor and laughter are so very much a part of what friends recognize him for...there is so much sincerity in his concern for others, his desire to always do the right thing, and his desire to make a positive contribution during his time on earth...which he has continually done. The numbers of folks involved in the search...the number of friends supporting from afar...truly a testament of the number of people whose lives Clay has touched and made a heartfelt impact on.


Life is a precious gift. Even so, it cannot be clung to with the fear of loss. Instead, it must be fully explored with wonder and delight. Clay has approached life that way more than anyone else I have had the privilege of knowing.

In all cultures, there are stories of the “crazy sage” who lives an apparently random life, showing up unexpectedly, opening people’s minds to thoughts and questions they had dared not consider, and then disappearing as quickly as he came. I know that Clay has had this effect on others he has met. He certainly had that effect on me. He has not only been my brother; he has also been the crazy sage who continually encourages me to examine my own thoughts, beliefs and choices.

These gifts (along with his tutorials on the many uses of duct tape) I will treasure always.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In Clay's own words

Our thanks and love to Rachel for making our boy *this* happy!