Warner Robins race to benefit Alzheimer’s Association

Center for Collaborative JournalismApril 4, 2013 

  • If you go

    What: Claxton Road Race 5K and 10.5K
    When: 8 a.m. Saturday; registration begins at 7 a.m.
    Where: Landing Pointe Plaza, 402 Ga. 247 South, Bonaire
    Cost: $30 for one event.
    More information: www.claxtonroadrace2013.kintera.org

Natalie Claxton was a community cheerleader, a Southern lady, a public servant, a businesswoman and a giver. Life changed for her and her husband, Lee Roy, in 2006 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Claxton Road Race 5K and 10.5K will mark its third year of raising awareness about the disease at 8 a.m. Saturday at Statham’s Landing in Bonaire. Since 2011, runners and walkers have raised more than $52,000 for the Middle Georgia Alzheimer’s Association, which offers counseling, support groups, educational classes and more.

“Everything that we do is free. Things like the Claxton Road Race are what help us provide those services,” Development Director Karen Kinsler said. “The money is used right here in central Georgia.”

Natalie and Lee Roy Claxton let the race use their name to promote its cause. Natalie, 80, lost her six-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease in December 2012. Lee Roy, 89, passed away in March.

Marsha Buzzell, friend of the Claxtons and executive director at Warner Robins Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, remembers Natalie Claxton’s battle with the disease.

“It was like a switch. She was so going, always smiling, always had something she was promoting and talking about, always doing something good for Warner Robins,” Buzzell said. “And then a light went off. It just went off.”

“She was one of the most giving people I’ve ever met in my life,” Buzzell said. “She loved this community and was always out there supporting all kinds of different functions.”

Before her decline, Claxton was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church in Warner Robins and director of the Warner Robins chamber of commerce, according to her obituary.

“There is no question that her passion for the chamber and this community was really contagious, and she was such a lovely, just a charming example of a Southern lady that was just a delight to be around,” Morgan Law, president and chief executive officer of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, said.

Claxton’s obituary said she was a charter and life member Bronze Eagle of the Museum of Aviation Foundation as well as a member of the Robins Air Force Base Military Affairs Committee.

June Lowe, executive vice president of the foundation of the Museum of Aviation, said Natalie had been a supporter of the museum ever since its beginning 32 years ago.

“She saw that the museum was the catalyst for the community to be able to support the base,” Lowe said. “There’s not much in this town that Natalie has not been involved in.”

Lowe also recalled how much Claxton loved to sing.

“Towards the end, when she didn’t remember a lot of other things, she remembered songs,” Lowe said.

Claxton graduated from the University of Georgia with a business degree and became a member of the Alumni Association, her obituary stated. Later, she owned and operated Manor Pharmacy in Warner Robins.

Her husband also was involved in the community. Lee Roy Claxton graduated from the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, his obituary states. He was a the co-owner of Claxton Graves Pharmacies in Macon and the owner of Claxton’s Pharmacy in Griffin, where his obituary stated he was active in many civic organizations.

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