Shared by Colleen DeLuca on June 7, 2013

I joined the LFACS Product Test team in 1995.  Michael was invaluable to my career.  He spent weeks working with Charlie Cleary and me teaching us about the telephone company, outside plant, i.e., cables, pairs, terminals, fiber, etc., and how to test it using LFACS.  "The All Wise and Knowing Wizard," or "Mr. Wizard," brought it all down to a level that anyone would understand.  He even organized a "field trip" for the entire group to tour the Central Office in New Brunswick.

He LOVED to teach!  He willing to share his own knowledge, and was humble enough to not only learn from others, but to give them the credit for their contribution(s).  Micahel was often heard saying, "I'm not that smart.  I just surround myself with smart people."

Michael had a way of making work enjoyable.  Even the mandatory 12-hour days were less horrific because of his attitude and enthusiasm for doing a job correctly.

Even after leaving the corporation, Michael remained my friend and a friend to my family.  He would come for dinner, golfed with my husband, and even looked after our son on occasion.

Michael Norman Francis Michael Clay will be sorely missed by many! 

At work, Mike Clay was one of the

Shared by William Onifer on June 6, 2013

When Bell laboratories took on the task of developing computer systems to support Bell Telephone Company operations, they assembled a powerful team of mathematicians, computer scientists and other academics.  What this team did not have, was an understanding of the detailed telephone company operations which needed to be supported.   To fill this void, the Labs recruited some of the best and the brightest staff from the Bell operating companies as "rotationals"  who were brought to New Jersey for  1-3 year rotations.   When the Labs took on the job of supporting Outside Plant operations in a software system (the LFACS system) they recruited Mike for his outside plant operations experience.

Mike came to the Labs as a rotational, but quickly rose above the level of just being a subject matter expert and became a true collaborator in developing the LFACS system.   Mike was able to not only explain the way things had been done with manual operations  in the outside plant in the past, but he was able to collaborate with the engineers at the Labs to determine how things could be done in the future with software support.

Mike proved to be so valuable to the Labs that when it came time for him to return to his operating company,  Bell Labs "converted" him to a permanent employee (i.e. stole him from his operating company).   Mike became an invaluable resource for the whole of the LFACS team.  The fact that  LFACS software is still running 25 years later in all of the original Bell operating companies owes much to the contributions of Michael Clay.

I personally owe Mike a great debt of gratitude for so willingly sharing his knowledge of outside plant operations and his enthusiasm for making sure we engineers understood not only the details of what was done but why each of the piece parts was or was not important.   Mike always embodied the Bell System work ethic of making sure each job was not just done, it was done right.

William Onifer Ph.D.

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