Claire A. Connolly
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Loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister; 89
FITCHBURG -- Claire Agnes (St. Jean) Connolly, 89, whose life's adventure was filled with compassion and joy, passed away on Sunday, December 16, 2012, at The Highlands in Fitchburg.
Born on March 30, 1923, in the French Hill neighborhood of Leominster, Massachusetts, Claire was the twelfth child of Delphis St. Jean and Marie Agnes Tourigny.
Graduating from St. Cecilia's Parochial School at the height of the Great Depression, Claire left formal education after the eighth grade for employment to help support her family. She worked in various plastics shops, at Fort Devens during World War II, at Independent Lock, at home as a wedding cake maker, for the Lunenburg School System when her children were young, and finally, with her husband, as a highly successful realtor.
Claire lived life with inimitable style. She was passionate and full of grace. She lit our hearts with her intelligence, beauty, vivaciousness, and thoughtfulness. She never lost that childhood sense of wonder. Claire made us laugh; her quick wit brought a smile to many a face. We loved her pluck and daring: she piloted planes, stood up to bullies, poked at pretensions, and naturally organized factory workers into the labor movement. Claire fought for the underdog, always. She was as liberal as the sun. Claire loved games of every sort, played a soulful piano, and, at 88, played a mean match of ping pong; but she reserved her greatest joy for people: for family and for friends old and new. And, lest we forget, how she loved to dance! Almost every week, for almost sixty years, Claire and Con, "Sugar and Baby," jitterbugged to the tune of a rare and beautiful romance.
Claire is survived by her loving husband of 59 years, Francis Xavier "Con" Connolly; her son, Joseph Connolly, and his wife, Karen Hakala; her daughter, Mary-Lou Blanchard, and her husband, George Blanchard; her grandson, William Connolly, and his fiancée, Christina Stock; her granddaughter, Jeannie Hakala; her brother, Robert St. Jean, and his wife, Clare; her sister-in-laws, Dorothy (Laura) St. Jean, Irene Connolly, and Rita Ordway; her brother-in-law, Donald Connolly, and his wife, Lorraine; and many, many nieces, nephews and friends.
Claire is predeceased by her siblings: Evelyn Brousseau, Lillian St. Jean, Della Bergeron, Theodore St. Jean, Cecile Bilodeau, Alfred St. Jean, Ernest St. Jean, Yvonne St. Jean, Irene Johnson, Eugene St. Jean, and Philip St. Jean.
Claire was an active volunteer with the Senior Center in Lunenburg and volunteered regularly to staff election polling sites.
CONNOLLY -- At Claire's request there will be no calling hours, no services, no funeral. Plans are underway to celebrate the life of Claire Connolly sometime this winter. Brandon F.H. 305 Wanoosnoc Rd. Fitchburg is directing arrangements. Donations in Claire Connolly's name may be made to Society of St. Vincent de Paul, c/o St. Cecilia's Church, 170 Mechanic Street, Leominster, MA; to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious at 8808 Cameron Street, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; or to the United Nations Foundation Central Emergency Response Fund, P.O. Box 06721, Washington, D.C. 20090-6721.
Published in Sentinel & Enterprise from Dec. 18 to Dec. 20, 2012