Tribute to a Great Man

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Every home bread baker, cook, and the entire culinary world is mourning the passing of cookbook author Bernard Clayton, Jr. on March 28th.  Bernard won numerous awards for his cookbooks, but he also won the hearts of many people by being a good man.  I am so blessed to have known Bernard and his wife Marge.  This photo was taken in their back yard in Bloomington, Indiana, at the time when my daughter Kara attended Indiana University in Bloomington.  I have written several blogs about Bernard this past year, one which you can read here.  I have received, and continue to receive,  emails from people across the country with “Bernard” stories.  I wanted to share one with you that exemplifies Bernard’s kindness and generosity.  Here is one from last week:
Hi Debbie,

I just discovered your blog on Tuesday when a saw an obituary for Bernard Clayton in a news feed. I have a personal story that I thought you might enjoy.

Around 1994, I was living in Shah Alam, Malaysia and doing original cataloging for a library there. I happened to get to catalog his book, “Cooking Across America” and as soon as it was processed, I checked it out. What great stories (and recipes) were in this book. Living in Malaysia, prawns were plentiful and cheap. The first recipe I tried was a shrimp salad with a spicy peanut dressing. (The cookbook opens automatically at the page for that recipe). I immediately tried Amazon to order a copy to be shipped home to Athens, Ohio. No luck. Out of Print. I contemplated telling the library I lost it, but felt too guilty to do that. I checked online for a phone number for him and found one in Bloomington, IN where he was living at the time and called him. I began the call with, “You don’t know me, but my name is Edie Luce and I am calling you from Malaysia.” I asked if he knew where I might get a copy of the book to which he replied “I have 4 copies and would be happy to sell you one” which he did. It was shipped to our home in Athens, Ohio. Inside the book he had written “I’m happy to be a part of your private library, Bernard Clayton”.

Thank you, Edie, for sharing your story, and letting us know the kindness of Bernard.  He loved his readers and wanted to share his joy of cooking with us.  If you google Bernard, you will find pages of information on his extraordinary life.

To honor Bernard, I would like to give away a copy of  his book, The Complete Book of Breads, which is considered by many to be the greatest cookbook ever written on the subject of breads.  This is one of the early copies of the book, from 1973.  If you would like to be entered in a random drawing for this book, please send me your name and email address by 11:59 pm CST, this Saturday, April 16th, to [email protected] and I will randomly select a name to win the book.  It is a treasure for one lucky person.

You are so missed, Bernard.  Thank you for teaching us a passion for cooking and baking, and for being a shining example of inspiration, hard work, and kindness in the world.  You will live forever in your books.


One Response to Tribute to a Great Man

  1. September 26, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    Hi Debbie,

    I loved your posts on Bernard Clayton and thank you for sharing your stories and giving us an insight into Mr. Clayton as a person. He was obviously much loved and will be missed the world over.

    I was very sad to hear of his passing and am consoled that he lives on through his books and recipes.

    I greatly enjoy reading his ‘voice’ in his bread book. His instructions always make me feel as though I am being guided in the kitchen by a kindly uncle with a great passion for his craft.

    I especially loved this story by your reader, Edie Luce, and took it upon myself to hunt down the book she talks about in her letter to you. I love heirloom recipes!

    Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Clayton but I am consoling myself with the purchase of a copy of this book signed by both Mr & Mrs Clayton. It is such a great find!

    Be assured, this will be a much treasured addition to my cookbook collection.


    P.S. I am in love with your actual Culinary Cellar and only the slightest bit jealous. Now that really is something for us cookbook lovers to drop our jaws at.

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