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Clara Brown

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Clara Brown Obituary
Clara J. (Blahnik) Brown
February 15, 1920 - March 22, 2014
Born in Redlands, California, to Clarence Doyle and Genevieve Downey Doyle, Clara was the third child of seven. She is survived by two of them: the eldest, Mary Guidry of San Bernardino; and her youngest sister, Rita Brock of San Diego. She is preceded in death by her other siblings, Alice (Sister M. Clarita, RSM); Patricia ("Trish") Broderson; Joseph Doyle; and John Doyle, former mayor of Palm Springs. She attended Sacred Heart Church and Elementary School in Redlands and graduated from Redlands High School in 1937. Clara entered the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in San Diego and received her RN in 1941, the same year she married her high school sweetheart, US Navy Machinist Mate, Gordon Frank Blahnik. As a young mother, Clara put aside her nursing vocation and stayed at home with her children: James (dec. 2010), Judith, John and Gordon Jr. (dec. 1981). The Blahnik family moved to San Pedro in 1948 where they became active members of Holy Trinity Church and school. In 1957, Clara was able to put her RN degree to use when she joined the pioneering nursing team that opened the Labor and Delivery Department at the new Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Harbor City. She called it the "happy ward." Later, when Kaiser inaugurated its second outpatient clinic on the grounds, she transferred there to the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Department. This was to give her more weekend time with her children. Clara proudly worked her entire 29-year nursing career for Kaiser Permanente. In the large extended family that evolved from the Doyle family, Clara was known for gathering the clan for almost any occasion. Christmases in Big Bear, California are the stand-out memories: midnight mass, kids in sleeping bags lining the floor of the cabin, board games, S'mores, charades, skiing and snow play. These created warm bonds that have outlasted deaths and departures. On retirement from nursing in 1986, Clara became even more active in San Pedro's Holy Trinity parish. She welcomed the changes occurring in the Catholic Church and contributed wholeheartedly to the construction of the Parish Center and the more open and welcoming renovation of the church. As Eucharistic minister she regularly visited sick and home-bound parishioners. She actively sought spiritual renewal and expansion in meditation and prayer groups. Ten years after the end of her first marriage, Clara married Kenneth Brown, Commander USN Ret. They travelled extensively, seeing much of the US, Canada, China, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They danced and spent unforgettable times on their own and with family and friends. When Ken was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1986, Clara took care of him at home. And when he had to enter the care home, Clara was there daily helping him with meals and basic tasks, providing comfort. Shortly after Ken's death in 1995, Clara was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At first she stayed at home, with live-in care. Then, in 2005, she moved into the Carson care home of her long-time friends and "adoptive family," Bella and Severino Grospe, and their large family of health-care-professional sons and daughters. She lived there until March 12, 2014, when a medical emergency brought her to the Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center ER. She was admitted and remained under the excellent medical, palliative and comfort care at Kaiser, not far from the spot she started work in 1957, until her death on March 22, 2014 at age 94. Clara leaves a daughter, Judith Blahnik, and her partner Sharon Creal of San Pedro; a son, John Blahnik, and his wife Yolanda Blahnik of Long Beach; grandchildren Paul Blahnik and Jasmine Rodriguez of San Pedro; Travis Bautista of Hawaii; Juan Carlos, Luis, Alma and Alex Ortiz of Tucson, Arizona; great-granddaughter, Ciera Blahnik of Temecula; sisters Mary and Rita mentioned above and, the children and grandchildren of all her siblings including niece, Marsha Hann and great-niece Tamara Hann of San Diego and great-nephew, Christopher Jahn of San Diego, who represented a long list of nieces and nephews at Clara's bedside; treasured friends, including Nancy Pearce and her devoted caregivers for 14 years, Bella and Severino Grospe, and their children and grandchildren. Her family and friends knew and loved Clara as an open and loving spirit who so readily offered kindness, laughter and a shoulder to lean on, whether the times were easy or tough. She made everyone feel prized for who and where they were in their lives. All will miss her deeply, and carry her forever in their hearts. Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 6, 2014, 3 - 7 p.m. followed by a Vigil Service at 7:00 p.m. at McNerney's Mortuary. A Funeral Mass will be offered on Monday, April 7, 2014, 10:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church followed by interment at Green Hills Memorial Park. Please sign the guestbook at mcnerneysmortuary.com or dailybreeze.com.

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Published in Daily Breeze on Apr. 1, 2014
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