Clayton Ries

Obituary of Clayton Benedict Ries

Clayton Benedict Ries Ph.D. 92, of Gilbert, Arizona peacefully entered the Kingdom of his Lord and Savior on April 20, 2023. 


Clay was born on May 14, 1930 in Esmond, South Dakota to Joseph and Edna Ries. As a young man, he worked hard alongside his father and brothers roofing barns in South Dakota.  After graduating from Clearlake High School in 1948, he felt the call to join a Trappist Monastery in Dubuque, Iowa and served as a monk for 18 years in the capacity of a brother. In the monastery, he was sought out by his brothers for counseling and he also helped build the New Mallory Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa. In the summer of 1965, he took a Dutch cargo ship to Lebanon and visited holy places in Jordan and Israel before returning to become a priest in Redfield, SD. His desire to experience having a family led him to leave the monastery and began his BA in Psychology at St. Thomas College, in St. Paul, MN.  He then met his wife Penny Lou Failor of Newton, Iowa on a blind date set up by a nun and they married 6 months later on December 1969 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. A year later they welcomed their only child, Joseph Benedict Francis (Joe) in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  


Clay completed his Ph.D. in Psychology in August 1973 and began working as a psychologist. In 1977, he moved to International Falls and established an MHMR known as the Northland Mental Health Center in Minnesota where he served as Clinical Director and Administrator. After moving to Texas, he continued his work and served as Director of Clinical and Outpatient Services at MHMR providing services to children and adults of Concho Valley in San Angelo, Texas. Clay enjoyed doing missionary work and traveled throughout Mexico and China.  In San Angelo and in El Paso he and Penny served alongside the Open Doors Ministry which provides Bibles, training, prayer support, and monetary/moral support to those in need.  


Clay’s favorite pastime was exploring Rainy Lake by boat with his family, and loved sitting and reading on top of a bluff on Dryweed Island. He delighted in listening to classical music, walking, and going out for ice-cream with his family. During his afternoon walks, he often had stray dogs happily joining and following him, which is a testament to his sweet and gentle demeanor that so many of us were blessed to experience.


Clay became a resident of San Angelo and El Paso, Texas, and more recently of San Tan Valley and Gilbert, Arizona.  He is survived by his son Joe and daughter-in-law Anita (nee Mussiett), of Gilbert, Arizona; his sister-in-law Barb Ries, his niece Mary Milligan (Steve), and nephews Robert Ries (Jennifer), and Tom Ries (Michelle), his sister-in-law Marty Suerth; his niece Susan Crowe (Brian), his nephews Michael Suerth (Kathy), Ryan Waits, and his co-parent-in-law Gladys (Nany) Mussiett.


The funeral service will be held on Friday April 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Sun Lakes, 9535 E. Riggs Rd. Sun Lakes, Arizona 85248. The reception will immediately follow the memorial service. The burial will take place the following day at 10:00 a.m. at Valley of The Sun Cemetery, 10940 E. Chandler Heights Rd. Chandler, Arizona 85248. For more information please call (480) 895-1088. 


The Ries family wishes to express their gratitude to everyone who has offered their help, condolences, and those who have gone out of their way to come celebrate Clay’s life. He will be missed, but we celebrate and rejoice in his Homecoming. 


“Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalms 100:4-5. 

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Funeral Service

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Friday, April 28, 2023
First Baptist Church of Sunlakes
9535 E. Riggs Rd.
Sun Lakes, Arizona, United States
Funeral Service and Reception


10:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Valley of the Sun Cemetery
10940 E. Chandler Heights Rd.
Chandler, Arizona, United States