Clay Whitehead
Clay Whitehead

Obituary of Clay Carlton Whitehead

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Durham – Dr. Clay C. Whitehead, 76, died unexpectedly at his residence in Durham.


Dr. Whitehead was born in Palo Alto, CA, to the late Margaret Archer and Carlton Whitehead.  Dr, Whitehead graduated with Honors from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine in 1968.  He practiced for nearly 50 years, specializing in psychiatry.  While trained in classical psychoanalysis, Dr. Whitehead began studies in the 1980s which built on classical models and ultimately led to the elaboration of a modern therapeutic style emphasizing the possibilities of the present moment with a focus on the personal creation of the future.


Throughout his career, Dr. Whitehead was closely associated with academia, teaching at both UCLA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

He published dozens of scholarly articles, making forays into fields as diverse as literary criticism and evolutionary anthropology.  At times he also wrote for more general readerships.  Most recently, in a 2015 News & Observer op-ed co-written with his dear friend, Neil Offen, Dr. Whitehead warned readers about the looming threat of nuclear warfare.


Dr. Whitehead is survived by his sons, Gavin Whitehead, of New Haven, CT, Carlton B. Whitehead, of Morrisville, NC; and his wife, Betty Buller Whitehead, of Raleigh.


A memorial service for Dr. Whitehead was held on Saturday, February 9, 2018 at 12:00pm in the Chapel of Walker's Funeral Home, officiated by Rev. MJ Tucci. 


In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent in Dr. Whitehead’s name to any of the following organizations:  Davis Library, UNC-CH, c/o Dir. of Library Development, Campus Box 3900, Chapel Hill, NC 27515,; PSR Legacy Society, attn: Cheryl T. Sam, 111 14th St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC, 20005,\donate; or to National Humanities Center, attn: Carol Vorhaus, 7 TW Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709,


The Whitehead family is under the care of Walker’s Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.  Please express your online condolences by using the tab below.

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