Clayton Trevor Nygaard, 34, of Overland Park, KS, died Monday, June 17, after a courageous, long term and heroic battle with a rare form of leukemia/lymphoma. He had been a volunteer research subject with the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD for more than twenty years. Thanks to their treatment, he had been in remission from 1998 until recently. When symptoms recently reappeared, available research drugs were ineffective. However, neither he nor his NIH physicians were willing to give up, so he had recently begun chemotherapy to prepare for a bone marrow transplant.
He was born 2 & 1/2 months premature on December 27, 1984 at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, FL. At birth he weighed 1 pound 13 ounces, was on a ventilator and resided for five months in the neonatal intensive care unit. His chances of survival at birth were 50/50. He beat the odds, developing into the smart, joyful, selfless and incomparable person he will be remembered as.
He graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, KS, where he was a member of National Honor Society, and from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, where he served as a volunteer student manager for the baseball team, receiving an award for his service. He was employed by Panera Bread in Overland Park, KS.
At William Jewell, he was well known by his instructors and fellow students as a generous and caring friend. His helpfulness and positive attitude seemed limitless, even as he confronted his illness. He loved working at Panera, driving his 1931 Ford Model A, garage sales, cooking and movies.
He is survived by his parents Diane and Terry, of Mission Hills, KS, his twin brother Eric, of Coralville, IA, his maternal grandparents Shirley and Duane Acker, of Atlantic, IA, aunts and uncles LuAnn Acker and Bill Tout of Fort Myers, FL, Marie King of Robbinsdale, MN, Janet Biel of Bismarck, ND, Carol and Bill Donley of Williamsville, NY, Dave and Lynne Nygaard of Bowman, ND, and many cousins. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Ted and Connie Nygaard of Bowman, ND.
Funeral services will be held at the First Lutheran Church, 6400 State Line Road, Mission Hills, KS, at 3 p.m. Friday, June 28, followed by a light lunch for friends and family. Johnson County Chapel is handling arrangements. The family suggests that the most fitting memorial would be registering as a bone marrow donor at bethematch.org.