Catholic 04

Claire Ellen Thompson

September 15, 1930 ~ September 3, 2021 (age 90)


Claire Ellen McCabe Thompson was born on September 15, 1930 in Barnstable, Massachusetts, to John Edward McCabe and Sarah Larkin McCabe. She grew up on Cape Cod and in Barrington, Rhode Island. Claire was a scholarship student at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, where she graduated magna cum laude with a Baccalaureate degree in 1952.  She was running a pre-school with her mother when she asked her across-the-street neighbor, Bill Thompson, an artist, to help her model the faces for marionettes she was making. The rest is history. Bill and Claire where married August 21, 1954, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, West Harwich, Mass. The newlyweds moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Bill secured his first professorship in the art department of Ohio State University. In 1955, their first child arrived, followed in quick succession by five more. In 1964 the family moved to Athens, Georgia, where Bill taught in the art department of UGA. Bill and Claire were a team, in both business and family. Life was busy raising six spirited children while supporting Bill in his commission work. In 1968, the whole family packed the (non-air conditioned) station wagon and drove to Cuernavaca, Mexico in the mountains just northwest of Mexico City where Bill had a grant to research Aztec art and architecture. The family visited sites around Mexico City including Teotihuacán, Tenochtitlan, Pyramid of the Sun. The experience was a formative one for the Thompson family, and inspired our life-long love of Mexico and the Spanish language. Claire instilled in her children a spirit of adventure as well as self-reliance. She also imparted her love of music, art, and literature. She was an incredible speller, as well as being fluent in French and proficient in Spanish. She had some Italian, most notably the word "Coraggio," which she used frequently and liberally. She loved travel, and after Bill’s untimely death in 1995, she traveled by herself as well as with her sister Patty to France and Italy. She also picked up the piano, which she had dropped as a sixteen year-old, as a sixty-year old and became highly skilled. After Bill’s death, she also had the Spirit of Athens cast and installed, with the help of the Rotary Club of Athens, and she supervised the casting and installing of Bill’s bust of Lamar Dodd in the UGA art department.  Along with Richard Hill, she compiled and edited two volumes of photos and commentary of Bill’s work. Not content to rest on her laurels, Claire took a screenwriting class in her seventies and wrote and had produced a musical with original music. Winterglow was staged at the historic Morton Theater in Athens on February 19, 2019, to a sold-out audience with a standing ovation.  

Claire was warm, witty and vibrant. She met life’s challenges with courage and tenacity, and drew strength from her unwavering faith in God. She and Bill were Oblates of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. She will be remembered for many things--her love of beauty and her love of the sea among them. She leaves behind her children: Sara Baker(Todd), Mike Thompson, Jon (Suzanne Chester) Thompson, Elizabeth Goizueta (Roberto), Joseph Thompson, and Megan Horstmann (Stephen), and her grandchildren: Hannah Baker, Cristina Rosato, Sarah Kolata, Corwin Staisiunas, Stephen Horstmann, Jr., Roberto Carolos Goizueta, Michael Thompson, Jr., Ignatius Horstmann, William Thompson, Jr., William Horstmann, Gabriela Goizueta, Zoe Chester-Thompson, Sofie Chester-Thompson, and Adam (Jaslyn) Baker,  her beloved nieces and nephews, all of whom, as was her want, she loved fiercely. She leaves a hole in our hearts no else can fill. A special thanks to her devoted caregivers, including Evaline Ohana, Antonia Benn, Sue Dyer, Patty Guerra, Rose Muindi, and Ann Njoroge. Thank you for making her last days so comfortable. Our deep appreciation also to Clanisha and Devon Turner for their years of service.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, GA; Catholic Relief Services, and/or the Claire E. Thompson Scholarship Fund at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School. Due to Covid, we will have a small private funeral followed by  a memorial service for Claire next year.

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens, GA is in charge of arrangements.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Claire Ellen Thompson, please visit our floral store.


Private Graveside Service

Oconee Hill Cemetery
297 Cemetery Street
Athens, GA 30605

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