Constance McCLAIN

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As a cloudless sunrise gilded the horizon on February 17, 2013, Connie drew her last breath while holding her husbands hand; and soared from this earth on angles wings. Born in Philadelphia on November 29, 1920 to Milton Richard Solivan and Alice Catherine Macgargal, the family moved to southern California in 1933. Connie majored in Political Science at University California Berkeley, after her sophomore year she delayed studies to enlist in the Marine Corps. During World War II she served with military Intelligence and sang with the Marine Corp Choir. Returning to Berkeley after the war to finish her studies, she met her husband Clifford as she reportedly told her sister after their first date: "I knocked him off his feet". She must have, as they were married after graduation, and have been for 65 years. In their early years Connie followed Clifford as Pro Baseball took them from Oakland to Albuquerque and Texas and back again, eventually settling in St. Helena where Cliff coached at the High School. In 1955 they moved to San Rafael (MarinWood), where they raised a family of five children for 20 years. Connie's energies never extinguished; Passionately active to her political causes or politicians, she was arrested protesting with Caesar Chavez, and once, as a candidate herself for a school board seat, she lost by a single vote because Cliff had to sit home with the kids so she could get out the vote for a National candidate, hence neither got to vote. In 1974 they completed work on their new home in Petaluma which would eventually become; McClain's Holiday Farm; where in addition to a thriving Christmas tree farm they raised livestock and fruits and berries open for public picking; hosting busloads of elementary school children year after year to picnic on the grass and pet a lamb or calf, or pick a pumpkin. A yearning for first hand knowledge kept Connie and Cliff traveling, a year long sabbatical trip to Europe in '66 and '67 later to Africa, China, New Zeeland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the Middle East, many during periods of political discord. While in the Soviet Union in 1990 they witnessed the plight of people affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear accident. In response they began what was to become the Chernobyl Children's Project; an effort to offer a respite to the children suffering from the effects of living in a radiated environment, a project which helped thousands of children. Connie and Cliff built Habit for Humanity homes in Sonoma Co. and with Jimmy and Roslyn Carter at the border in San Diego. She served on the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Committee, and was involved with Helping Hands; serving hot meals to people in need, and was active with the Petaluma United Methodist Woman's group, and Marriage Encounter. Age affected her golden years but she continued to shower her family and friends with love. On the eve of her Heavenly departure, family gathered by her bedside singing amazing grace, to the wonderment of us all mom joined in the melody holding and changing notes on her exhaled breath, mom was joining us in her last earthly song. Connie is survived by her husband Clifford, children: Shirley Ingram (Bill), Steve (Cathy), Craig (Karen), Candice Van Beek (Steve), and Paul (Ellen), 10 Grandchildren, seven step Grandchildren, and 15 Great Grandchildren, niece Robin Macgarghee and nephew Mike Pratz. Taps was played as Constance McClain was laid to rest at a small family gathering at Cypress Hill Cemetery in Petaluma; a Celebration of life will be held at Petaluma United Methodist Church 410 D St. On Wednesday February 27th at 11:00 a.m. with a Reception in the social hall following.
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Feb. 23 to Feb. 27, 2013
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