Police ID man found unresponsive in Dayton

DAYTON – The man found dead at the Dayton Community Center Monday evening has been identified as a Dayton City Council member.

Claire LeRoy Williamson Jr., 76, of Dayton, was found unconscious and unresponsive in the community center gym at about 6 p.m., according to Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar.

He died of natural causes, Dunbar said.

Williamson was dead when emergency personnel arrived.

He was known locally for more than his seat on the council.

At the age of 70, Williamson joined the Dayton Rescue Squad.

“They wanted me to take my EMT certification,” he said when The Messenger interviewed him several years ago. “Here I am at the age of 70 going back to Iowa Central.”

It put him in the position of helping patients who were also his neighbors and friends.

“I knew that would happen and I was prepared for it,” he said. “Your professionalism has to take over.”

On Monday, when he was discovered, it was Dayton Rescue that responded to the 911 call.

“Claire lived and breathed EMS and it was always apparent he was very proud of his work on the Dayton Rescue Squad,” Dunbar told The Messenger Tuesday.

“He helped countless people in their time of need. He was always one of the first to respond when the pager went off.”

Dunbar added, “He was a good man.

Williamson moved to Dayton in 2001 after retiring from a position in Omaha with the Union Pacific Railroad locomotive operations department.

He and his wife, Darlene, had selected Dayton while actively looking for a place to which they could retire.

“We wanted lots of room and lots of property,” he told The Messenger.

He quickly became a reliable volunteer.

“I wanted to serve the community further,” he said.

He suggested to his wife that he run for mayor.

“She said no,” he remembered.

Williamson did become secretary of the Dayton Lions Club and of the Dayton Community Grocery Board.

His philosophy regarding his adopted hometown was simple.

“It’s caring about people and giving back to the community and surrounding area. That’s what volunteering is all about.”

A service for Williamson will be Friday at 2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Dayton.