By LINDA KELLETT
For the Recorder
PALATINE BRIDGE -- Animated, warm, ebullient, witty, honest, trustworthy and patriotic. That's how friends who knew and loved Canajoharie High School alumna Emily Elizabeth Clayburn remembered the 29-year-old former Spring Street resident early this week.
An airman with the 6th Air Mobility Wing who attained the rank of staff sergeant, Clayburn was killed on Monday in an industrial accident at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
Col. Scott DeThomas, who commands the 6th Air Mobility Wing, said Emily will be missed by everyone in the wing and all who had the chance to serve with her.
The cause of the accident is under investigation. No further details were provided.
Emily was the daughter of Robert and Michelle Clayburn, formerly of Palatine Bridge; and the granddaughter of former village mayor and trustee Thomas Clayburn and his wife, Anne. Emily was predeceased by her grandfather, but her grandmother still resides in the village.
Information about other family members was not available at press time.
While many of her high school friends had not seen her since their 2001 graduation, they had fond memories of their outgoing classmate.
Sarah Magistro said Emily's "spirit was so strong words can't describe... always happy and never let her surroundings change the person she was inside. I hadn't seen Em in almost 10 years, due to both of our traveling. I was so happy to be able to spend time with her at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just can't believe I'll never be able to laugh with her again."
It was with shock that former classmate, Emily Bowerman, received the news.
She said, "Emily and I lost touch after high school so I hadn't seen her since we graduated in 2001. I can tell you when we were in High School that she was the kind of girl everyone wanted to be friends with. Her personality overtook any room she was in. It was the best kind of energy to be around."
She continued, "It seems she hadn't changed at all from the outpouring of love on her Facebook page. My sympathies go out to her family and friends and anyone whose life she touched with her presence."
A close friend who had maintained contact with Emily recalled her as "a bright soul."
Through her sister, she noted Emily's sense of humor was "deep and powerful --she could not be in a room without causing eruptions of laughter in those who gravitated towards her. Her own laughter was infectious -- to hear her immediately set your own mind at ease."
She noted the opportunity to travel the world with the Air Force brought Emily joy, "and she was so very proud to serve the country she loved. Emily was as honest and trustworthy as she was vivacious and fun. She cherished her niece and nephew, and she treasured time with her parents, sister, family and friends."
As noted in her high school yearbook profile, Emily majored in history and home economics and was involved in Students Against Destructive Decisions, choir, drama club, the swim team, track and field, the Canajoharie Athletic Association and the Community Action Committee while in high school.
In a January 2003 article in the Recorder, Clayburn was also recognized for her graduation from the traffic management apprentice course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. There, she received training in planning, arranging, and procuring air, rail, motor carrier, and bus transportation service for military and civilian members and their dependents via military and commercial carriers and other duties.
Palatine Bridge Mayor James Post, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as Emily, said that he was acquainted with her when she was growing up.
"It's a shock to everyone, and a tragic thing to lose someone this young," he said on Wednesday.
An obituary and information about funeral arrangements were not available at press time.