Obituary of Ronald Clayton Caylor, Jr.
Ronald Clayton “Ron” Caylor, Jr., a witty and astute student of the hard-knock-life who possessed a certain insatiable thirst for knowledge of all kinds, has died at age 80. His last days were spent toiling in his Jonesborough, TN Vineyard, surrounded by the grapevines and border collies he so lovingly cultivated.
Born in Norton, VA, to Ronald Clayton Caylor, Sr. and Mary Hash Caylor, he and his younger sister Marilyn Caylor Adams, grew up on wild blackberries, sunshine, and Mary Caylor’s world famous home cooking. The Caylors settled in Kingsport and after a brief employment at the Kingsport Times, Ron went off to study journalism at Hiawassee College andUniversity of Tennessee. Ron moved to south FL to start his career after college, and helped pioneer the Florida Today as a Sunday Editor as well as the Articles Editor at the National Enquirer. He spoke of these days of the fast-and-furious newsrooms and the colleagues turned lifelong-friends as some of the greatest of his life. His early journalism career birthed an innate pride in his written word, scrupulousness, and hunger for “the whole truth” that followed him throughout all the years of his life.
Ron spent nearly 35 years in FL, raising a family and locating every snook dock and grouper hole in existence off the Loran Tower ledge in Stuart, FL. He relocated to Jonesborough, TN in 2000 to be closer to aging parents and decided planting a vineyard would be a nice retirement project. He ended up growing much more than grapevines up on that mountain. He firmly planted his legacy as a East Tennessee Renaissance man right there in that fickle red clay. He grew love and memories there. He grew friendships and cultivated the land God blessed him with. He turned nothing into something again and again. Ron’s daughter always said he was a master of reinventing himself over and over. And he was. Always hungry for news, technology, and never ever willing to let idleness overtake him, he went on to add winemaker, border collie breeder, folk-guitar player, song-writer, and abstract painter to his already extensive resume.
Ron leaves behind children: Ronald Clayton "Clay" Caylor, III, Of Omaha, Nebraska, and Eppie Caylor Schoch & husband Dr. Brett Schoch of Port St. Lucie, FL, Sister: Marilyn Caylor Adams, Brother-in-law: Thomas "Tom" E Adams, Jr. passed before him, Nephew: Travis Stuart Adams, Grandchildren: Brayden, Macaiah, Saylor, & Ember Schoch, Coraline Caylor, and many beloved cousins.
His friends and acquaintances are too numerous to count and have helped ease the grief of his family with their vastly varying stories and memories of this unique and unforgettable man. We suppose all he ever really wanted to do was leave his mark on this world. And in that, he has more than succeeded.
If you spoke to him for longer than five minutes, you undoubtably heard about his children or his grandchildren, his greatest joys of all, and his most prized accomplishments.
His own words from a recent essay he wrote about life on his farm show of the peace Ron found in his little slice of heaven. We can only hope the actual Heaven he’s finally getting to enjoy now, makes this pale in comparison.
“You are curious about life around here,
and what I do, and do I fear dying of bore-dom?
A farm, well how can that be a life worthwhile for you or me? It's so slow.
What do you do on your small farm
that keeps the bonkers far away and makes your life worthwhile?
Sundays, alone with my mountain, rich with hues of tangerine and grape and red,
I paid homage to the beauty halfway up to the clouds that encircled the mountains glow.
And in the morning chill my mountain sang a song only Tibetans know.
A cup of joe with Boot and Choc and Cheeta the cat in tow.
A morning trek before it warms,
along the trail in my backwoods.
Oak and Poplar and Birch and Pine
I’m lucky to walk here and call this place mine.
Meanwhile bank on the farm, the Riesling vineyard
had sung its song and it needs trellis support,
so I hitched the trailer to the tractor of course
and grab the posts and wire and tools to make the Reislings happy.
I dug the trellis post holes the day before, so I pound posts into holes,
level perpendicularly, and then string the wire of course.
Over my shoulder three deer gaze in
a secluded pasture which I can see not
far from my vineyard. After two hours
or so I finished the job, gathered my
tools and headed for the barn leaving
the Rieslings smiling.
After a peek at the scores, and a pet for the pets,
the pop of a beer starts the process of winding down from the day.
For 30 years I cursed and toiled on
publishing's most acid soil. Now, it is
time to slow the pace and let the colors
of autumn dictate what I do. “ - Ron Caylor
A gathering of friends and family to honor Ron’s life will be held late summer at his farm in Jonesborough, TN. The date will be posted on his Facebook page forthcoming, or daughter Eppie or sister Marilyn can be contacted for more details.
Carter-Trent Funeral Home, Kingsport is serving the family.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ronald Caylor, Jr., please visit Tribute Store