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Clay Wilwert, born to parents Dorothy and Eldie Wilwert on October 18, 1959, in Dubuque, IA. Clay graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1978 and married Janelle Wilwert on July 12, 1997. After a 34-year battle with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis, Clay peacefully passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN on October 9, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. He was 63 years old.
Visitation will be from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 15th, 2023, at Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory, 2595 Rockdale Road with a sharing time to be held at 6:00 p.m. Online Condolences may be left at www.leonardfuneralhome.com
Clay was a devoted husband and a proud father to his three sons, Chad, Jeremy, and Brandon. As a grandpa, Clay found joy playing with his grandkids and attending their sporting events.
Clay’s passion for motorcycles and adventure was inspired by his parents, who opened Wilwert’s Harley-Davidson in 1959. Clay served in many roles from parts to service to sales and later took ownership in 1998 and later opened a second location in Galena, IL. Motorcycles were much more than a business to Clay – he thrived on the thrill of motor-cross, hillclimb, drag bikes, and snowmobile racing.
Later in life, Clay traded in his motorcycles for a bicycle to support his wife’s goal of completing RAGBRAI.
In his quieter moments, Clay enjoyed cheering for the Packers and rooting for NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. Clay loved cooking BBQ, cream corn and canning jelly, using his Uncle LaVerne’s recipe. Clay had a passion for the outdoors and enjoyed sitting in a tree stand hunting deer. He was also a skilled craftsman who dedicated countless hours to restoring his beloved 1963 Chevy Nova, as well as many motorcycles.
Clay was an avid supporter of Dubuque hockey and served as President of the Dubuque Youth Hockey Association and housed many Fighting Saints players over the years.
Clay was preceded in death by his father, Eldie Wilwert; father-in-law Jerry Lehman and his beloved grandson, Cooper Wilwert in infancy. He was also proceeded in death by his grandparents Matt and Alma Wilwert; Charles and Bessie Martelle and many aunts and uncles.
Clay is survived by his loving wife, Janelle, and sons: Chad (Carrie) Wilwert; Jeremy (Kerry) Bickett, and Brandon (Kristen) Dirksen; grandchildren Colby and Corbyn Wilwert, Morgan and Issac Bickett, Mia and Max Dirksen. He is also survived by his mother, Dorothy; brothers Todd (Jena) Wilwert, Dane (Lynette) Wilwert, sister, Wendy Wilwert; mother-in-law, Janet Lehman; brother-in-law Ward Dirksen, Chad (Nacole) Lehman, sister-in-law Jenny (Tom) Sweeney, along with numerous nieces and nephews.
He is also survived by his faithful Weimaraner dogs, Elsa, Wunder, and Nova, who will dearly miss their beloved companion.
The family of Clay Wilwert would like to thank the Doctors and staff at the Mayo Clinic Hospital and Saint Mary's Campus for their care during Clay’s time in Rochester, MN. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research in Clay's memory.