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SANTA FE, N.M. - Claudia leaves a great wake. Her radiant love of life was a gift to all. In her final two years of struggle with cancer, she wove together all the important paths of her life's journey - the rocks, the water, the wind and the waves - into several remarkable adventures to the Sea of Cortez, the San Juan Islands, and the coast of Maine aboard Valdesca, her small open sailboat, with her loving first mate Tim. She died February 23, 2012.
Claudia was born February 4, 1956 in Troy, New York. The pull of the water took hold with the summers spent at Lake George in the Adirondacks with her family. As a teen, the sailing program at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School fed her spirit, first as a student and then returning as an instructor. By then she was known as "Sparky" by fellow staff.
The culminating adventure was a trip with instructors in a Hurricane pulling boat, from Maine to Florida with sails and oars.
Claudia received an undergraduate degree from Brown University in American Civilization in 1979. A senior project river trip on the Green and Colorado rivers introduced her to the rocks, rivers, and canyons of the west, a lifetime passion.
After graduation, she moved to Santa Fe. She led courses for the Southwest Outward Bound School and The Santa Fe Mountain Center and embraced all things outdoors: telemark skiing, climbing, backpacking, kayaking and rafting, including many trips down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon. She also worked at Shelton Energy Research with mentor and friend, Jay Shelton, and it was there that she left behind a fear of math and science for good.
By the mid-eighties, Claudia went back to school in a geology master's program at Cal State, Los Angeles. She returned to Shelton Energy Research in the summer of 1986 where she met her future husband, Tim. Claudia completed her fieldwork for her master's degree near Ladron Peak on the Rio Grande rift.
In 1994, she received a doctorate in structural geology from Harvard with a thesis on the constraints on extension in the Sierra San Fermin in northwestern Baja California, Mexico. Claudia was awarded a Fulbright Student Grant to study tectonic processes in the Spanish Pyrenees at the Universdad de Barcelona in 1994-96 and a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to continue her study of the Pyrenees at the Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain in 2000.
Claudia loved Spain. It was a second home and family. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Labs 1996-99 and a technical staff member from 1999-2009.
Most recently, she led the Seismic Hazards Geology Team in the E.E.S. Division. She was a strong proponent of women in science and she mentored many young scientists and served on boards and committees of the Geological Society of America, the New Mexico Association of Women in Science, and the Association of Women Geoscientists and the Fulbright Foundation.
She was a founding member of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center in Los Alamos.
Claudia is survived by her husband, Tim Johnson of Santa Fe; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen V. Lewis II of Troy N.Y.; and four of five siblings, Stephen V. Lewis II (Joan) of Menands, N.Y., Anne Lewis Flotron (Franc) of St Louis, Mo., Paul G. Lewis (Amy) of South Orange, N.J., Jean Lewis Maloy (Peter) of Loudonville, N.Y; nine nieces and nephews; and four grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
She was godmother of Mark Maloy. Her brother, Mark J. Lewis, preceded her in death.
A Memorial service will take place Saturday, March 17, at 2 p.m. at the St Francis Auditorium, Santa Fe, N.M.
Contributions may be made in her name to the Hurricane Island Foundation, P.O. Box 1280, Rockland, Maine 04841.
Many thanks to the doctors and nurses at the Cancer Institute of N.M. and UNM Hospital, Ambercare, and friends and family in this journey. Such a joyous spirit to carry us forward.
Published in The Record on Mar. 4, 2012