Sales rep, entrepreneur

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Clayton Freeman, who represented Head and Salomon across the Western United States, and then held executive positions at Couloir, Roffe and other leading brands, died August 16 after a three-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 82.

Clay grew up in Weston, Massachusetts, and learned to sail in Connecticut and to ski in Vermont. He attended Middlesex School, where he played hockey, football, lacrosse and crew,  and studied English at Dartmouth College, where he played hockey and lacrosse. Graduating in 1958, he joined the U.S. Navy, where he became an underwater demolitions officer, in a Frogman unit that later came to be called the SEALS. Stationed in the South Pacific, he used a posting to Japan to learn the language – and sumo wrestling.

Upon leaving the Navy in 1963 Clay landed a job representing Head Skis across the Western states. He met Anneliese Meggl, the German who finished sixth in downhill and fourth in combined at the Squaw Valley Olympics, and learned German before meeting her family in Garmisch. They married in 1965, settled in Vail and had two boys, Michael and Stefan.

When Head introduced its first tennis racket in 1969, Clay worked with athletes at the U.S. Open and other events. But in 1973 he joined the new Salomon North America distribution subsidiary.

Clay and Anneliese divorced in 1979. Clay then married Kathi Smith, who was working at Ski Industries America. The couple settled in Sun Valley, where they developed an import/export business dealing in Pre Skis, The North Face, Serac and other brands – and acquired the EIR sweater line. Their son Chad was born in 1983.

The couple split up in 1989 and sold the business. Clay moved to Santa Cruz to work for Vancouver-based Couloir, later moving to Roffe in Seattle, where he lived on a houseboat on Lake Union Later, he partnered with John Kubiak to launch Production Finance International, brokering distribution and finance deals with ski and sports brands. 

 He married Jill Peterson in 1997; their son Chase was born in 1998 when Clay was 63. He semi-retired in 2007.

At age 80, Clay was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

He is survived by siblings Peter (Ann), Ducky and David (Eileen); sons Michael (Denise), Stefan (Justine), Chad, Chase and stepson Andrew; grandchildren Griffin, Riley, Parker and Jacquelyn; and three ex-wives.

At Clay’s request, there will be no memorial service, but the family plans celebrations of his life in Coronado, California; Vail; Sun Valley; and Stonington, Connecticut.


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