All members of the Class of 1961 were special. Each one was special in an individual way. John Clayton McCaskill perhaps had more ''specials'' than the rest of us. He was blessed with ''Hollywood'' looks and athletic talent that excelled in several sports. If you review the Arkansas High School Athletic Records you will find Clayton's name appearing several times in football and baseball. I believe I am correct in stating he was the second high school athlete in Arkansas to make All State in football three consecutive years. 

The unusual thing about Clayton is his outstanding athletic abilities did not create a superiority complex as they did with some others. It goes without saying Clayton loved people and loved a good time. It was a shame his love did not include academics as that failure to find a classroom later brought his outstanding athletic career to an end. It did not end before beating out a man named Kenny Hatfield for a starting position as a Razorback running back. After leaving the U of A Clayton showed up to play baseball at Arkansas A & M. With no practice he stepped on the mound and pitched a no-hitter against power house Delta State bringing back memories of state championship Zebra Baseball.

When his athletic career came to an end Clayton managed a Pizza Hutt on East Harding in Pine Bluff. A frequent visitor was a man who had lifted weights several years and developed his body to such a degree he was awarded the title Mr. Arkansas. The man sustained a severe fall rendering him a paraplegic. Without the use of the lower half of what was once a magnificent human body the man became despondent. His world almost ended when his wife left him in his moment of darkness. He was so despondent he made an unsuccessful attempt to take his life. As this man visited with Clayton, he began to laugh again and began to converse with Clayton. All the while Clayton encouraged him to refocus on living a meaningful life.

As a result the man turned away from physical things and began to focus on academics. He enrolled in college and each day walked up three flights of stairs on his arms with his books and lunch tied to a strap he carried with his teeth. He chose a business career and set the curve on each test rendered in the business department of Arkansas A & M graduating with honors. He later excelled in the rehabilitation business. So much so he was recognized as one of America's outstanding young men and invited to our nation's capital where his recognition took place at the White House. The man is now retired after a long successful career living in Dallas.

                                                                                                              Written by Bobby Smithy
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