It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Richard A. Clayton, who left us on Sunday, September 17, 2023, in North Plainfield, New Jersey, at the age of 85. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey on August 23, 1938, to Richard and Ruth Clayton, he remained rooted to his hometown, nurturing deep connections with the community until relocating to North Plainfield 25 years ago.
A patriot through and through, Richard answered his nation’s call shortly after high school, enlisting in the United States Army. His service took him overseas to Germany, where not only did he represent his country with honor, but he also found love. There, he met and married Christa Karstensen, and together they began their family before returning to the States.
Determined and ever-committed to growth, Richard pursued his passion for justice and the law at Rutgers University, completing his undergraduate studies and then earning his degree from Rutgers Law. This foundation set him on a path in the realms of criminal justice and law, where he became an integral part of many lives and stories.
While Richard was often seen as reserved and contemplative, those close to him will fondly recall a man deeply captivated by history. A voracious reader, Richard’s shelves overflowed with historical texts, a testament to his keen intellect and insatiable curiosity. His passion for the past found a contemporary outlet in his love for NASCAR racing, where the blend of speed, strategy, and historical legacy captured his imagination.
Richard's dedication to his profession was unwavering, serving clients and seeking justice up until the very end. This commitment was a testament not just to his work ethic, but to his genuine belief in the power of the law to make a difference.
He is predeceased by his dear granddaughter, Danielle Gargano, and his beloved sister, Connie. Richard is survived by his former spouse, Christa Karstensen, his daughter Debbie Gargano, granddaughter Nicole Lintner; six great-grandchildren, Christian Emberger, Rilik Turner, Gabby Turner, Abigail Lintner, Riley Lintner and William Lintner and two nieces, Cori Peloso and Linda Downey.
Cremation services were private.
In remembrance of Richard, let us honor the lessons he taught us: the value of commitment, the importance of history, and the unparalleled joy of a race well run.