Claire Lois Haag McGaffagan

November 3, 2011

Claire McGaffagan, longtime resident of Indian Rocks Beach, died peacefully on November 3, 2011 with her family at her side. Claire was born on March 14, 1925 in Narberth, Pennsylvania and grew up in Ft. Washington. She was raised by her father, George Bernard Haag and mother, Mary Katherine McGary Haag along with twin brothers Frank and George, her brother Richard and sister, Ruth.
Claire had 4 children, Peter (Mamie), Susan, Mac (Shirley) and Patty (Noel), 6 grandchildren (Alexis, Andy, Christopher, Patrick, Rollie and Paula) and 12 great-grandchildren. She thought of her brother’s children(Richard aka “Dick”) as her own: Rick (Carol), Michael-Paul (Michelle), Chris, Muffy and Steve). She also loved her sister Ruth’s children, Joanie (Harry) and Denny (Sharon).
Claire’s views on life were shaped by growing up during the Great Depression and World War II. She believed that material things were unimportant. She remained interested in politics until the end of her life and was a diehard Democrat. She loved her family above all else. She raised her children as a single parent, often working 3 jobs so they could attend Catholic school. She valued education and was a lifelong learner. She read the paper every day and particularly liked biographies and history. Claire moved to IRB in the 1950’s. She loved the climate and never got accustomed to air-conditioning. In her last years, she lived with Mac in Florida, or with Patty in North Carolina. But her heart was definitely in Florida!
Claire had many jobs and worked until she was 75. She worked for 13 years at Siple’s Garden Seat. While there, she catered many events. She often told of a Passover seder dinner where she served Menachim Begin. She also drove a cab and worked as a Ward Clerk at Suncoast Hospital. Claire started a cleaning business, Kleen and Shyne, when she was 50. Patty, Mac and Susan all worked for her at various times. It was through her business that she met Ling and Terry Frees, who became lifelong friends. Her brother Dick started a hospice at the VA hospital in St. Petersburg. Claire was a volunteer there for many years.
Claire was generous, smart, opinionated and self-reliant. She was truly loved and will be missed by many. Special thanks to Suncoast Hospice and Belinda Robinson, who helped take care of Claire during her illness. A memorial service in Pennsylvania will be held at a later date as Claire’s wish was to have her ashes scattered in Rick’s garden, along with her brother Dick’s.
Memorial contributions may be made to Suncoast Hospice or to the charity of your choice.

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16 Comments

  • Patty McGaffagan Posted November 10, 2011 3:12 pm

    Miss you, mom. You would be surprised I found so many pictures of you where you were actually smiling! We had lots of good times and I am grateful for them.

  • Alexis Martin Posted November 10, 2011 7:32 pm

    Grandma I love you! I will always remember summer afternoon naps in the front bedroom with the fan blowing full blast after hours at the beach, and of course your beautiful Christmas Even dinners with silver and china. You made reading fun and a priority, urged me to travel, and helped me with all my college apps. Cinnamon apples, rasberry tea, and hot cocoa from scratch were some of the kitchen yummies we would make together. So many good memories, you had a heart of gold and were so good to Andy and I. XOXO

  • Greg, Amy and Nicholas Posted November 10, 2011 8:05 pm

    We will remember her most for the straight and to-the-point advice she gave us that took us five years to consider, and she was right. Will miss the family stories that were always funny with the extra parts added that always left you wondering what really happened, if any of it at all. Miss having her as a part-time neighbor, the dynamics of driveway conversations, and the “WWCD?” method of reasoning. Patty, Noel, Pinochle, Katie and Hank are all in our thoughts.

    • Patty McGaffagan Posted November 15, 2011 8:15 am

      Hi Sue: My mother and often spoke of you and wondered where you were and how your life was. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I know mom cared about you and even after all these years, she would say “I wonder what happened to Sue?” We did have some nice Sunday dinners. And she did that even though she worked so hard all the time. Are you on Facebook? I will try to find you.

  • Jill Cooper Posted November 10, 2011 9:57 pm

    I will miss Claire. Since her daughter, Patty is my best and oldest friend, I have known her almost my whole life. I am so glad that I got to spend some time with her before she went back to Fla. I hope to see her in heaven. What a glorious day when we meet again.

  • Ulli Mattern Posted November 10, 2011 11:27 pm

    I had the honor to know Claire because of her daughter, my best friend Patty. I had the opportunity to also be afraid of that fan flying down upon us when we visited her in Florida. Claire had a way about her, and I always admired her zest for knowledge and her eagerness to share her insights and wisdom. I can hear her now because of the memories I have, and I especially cherish the laughter we had. We all went to Germany together, and she was a trooper (although she was not going to return there because of the weather…). Her life is something to be admired, and she was indeed “generous, smart, opinionated, and self-reliant”. My hat is off to you, Claire, and I’ll never forget you.
    Love, Ulli
    P.S. I have six dogs now.

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