Clayton Fire Department Mourning Another Loss

(Town of Clayton Release)

Just when the Clayton Fire Department thought we had reached our limits for heartache, we need to pass on the excruciatingly sad news that we have lost another member of our fire family.

Alison Michaud Vessie, the wife of one of our part-time Clayton firefighters, has passed away from complications of COVID-19. This beloved 53-year-old wife, mother and Clayton real estate agent had survived health battles before, beating stage 4 cancer with difficult chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

But on Monday morning, just as the procession for Deputy Chief Jason Dean was making its way down Main Street, Alison lost her fight against this terrible virus. She had been cared for by the great team at Johnston Health in Smithfield for the last month.

Born on March 7, 1967, Alison made her way to Clayton via Canada, Long Island and Massachusetts. If you can’t tell from her infectious smile in the photos, Alison was a people person. She spent 15 years as a social worker, helping people through difficult times, being that expert listener that everyone needs in times of stress.

Most recently, she worked as a real estate agent for HomeTowne Realty in Clayton, helping countless families find homes in the community she loved and was raising her family in. She was loved by her coworkers, baking homemade cookies and cakes for the office.

Alison was a certified pastry chef and owned her own bakery, The Plain Jane Baking Company. This venture started in New York, but she also operated at the NC State Farmer’s Market for many years, with so many locals having the chance to enjoy her made-from-scratch treats there.

Alison volunteered at food pantries and animal rescue organizations, and was an advocate for animal rescue. She rescued 3 dogs of her own and helped her daughter rescue a street dog from Guatemala, and she was an HTR Animal Agent for Rescue Ur Forever Friend (RUFF) donating a portion of each of her commission checks to animal rescue.

She loved gardening and baking and canning pickles she grew in her own backyard. She had a unique skill and hobby in tile and stone work…creating a stone fireplace, amazing tile back splashes and building a 25-foot stone dry creek to help with drainage at her home. But most of all she loved her kind husband, Matthew, and beautiful daughter, Arden. Alison was Arden’s biggest cheerleader and most demanding coach, and Arden credits mom’s persistence with growing a passion for track & field that would lead her to be one of the most decorated athletes in Corinth Holders High School – JCPS history, and with encouraging her to pursue a hopeful career in medicine.

The Vessie family is asking everyone to respect their privacy. They do have a message though – please, in honor of Alison, understand that this pandemic is not an issue of politics but one of public health and protecting each other. Please continue to wear masks, socially distance, and wash your hands frequently. This family has seen how miserable COVID is to live through – in this case proving even more formidable than cancer – and they just don’t want anyone else to experience the suffering and pain that Alison and their family have gone through.

No public services are planned at this time. Arrangements are being handled by McLaurin at Pinecrest Memorial Park Funerals & Cremation.

Only one firefighter of the original 17 remains in recovery. Fire Equipment Operator Steve Benson was transferred from Johnston Health Smithfield to WakeMed Rehab to continue his recovery from complications of COVID-19.