via O’Neill Hayes Funeral Home
Claire Evelyn (Randall) Curtis , 87, of Portsmouth RI, formerly of Newport’s Fifth Ward, passed away peacefully at home on June 12, 2021, surrounded by her family. Claire was born in Newport on July 20, 1933, to the late John J. and Claire E. Randall.
Claire was the beloved wife of the late Martin L. Curtis to whom she was happily married to for 63 plus years. She graduated from St. Catherine’s High School in Newport as the valedictorian of the Class of ‘51. She was then awarded a scholarship to attend Salve Regina College, graduating in 1955. At the time of her graduation, she was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study aboard, of which she would politely refuse saying, she was engaged and would be getting married in the coming year. Claire had an unending thirst for knowledge and would continue her relationship with Salve throughout most of her adult life. The culmination of her relationship with her alma mater was in 1995, when she received the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award recognizes outstanding, sustained commitment to profession, community and family and is considered Salve Regina’s highest alumni award.
Claire’s philosophy of life and what drove her to be involved in the community after raising six children was this, everybody has a responsibility to think of other people! This credo led to years of volunteer work. She would establish the Neighborhood Friendly Visitor Program, where volunteers would visit the homebound elderly and handicapped to chat, play cards, write letters or whatever would help engage them with people. This would ultimately lead to her taking a position with Child and Family Services as the director of volunteers, a position she would hold for many years. After leaving CFS she would become a Hospice volunteer, something she did until finally deciding it was time to spend more time with her husband in retirement.
Her Catholic faith was also something that drove her to be involved with the youth of the community as well. Cited in 1982 by Bishop Gelineau of Providence for her “outstanding and dedicated commitment to Catholic education” in the Diocese, she had served as secretary and treasurer of the Newport County Regional School Board as well as secretary to the Principal of the school for many years. Along with her husband, she devoted 12 years to “Search for Maturity” earning the Regional Catholic Youth Organization and Diocese “Spirit Alive Award” in 1981 for her enthusiastic promotion of the program. She and her husband would say it was a real privilege to work with all the great kids who participated in the program over those 12 years. She also spent more than 20 years teaching religious education at St. Augustin and St. Lucy’s parishes and has also served as a marriage preparation counselor.
In retirement her thirst for knowledge never wavered. A voracious reader, she would start each day with her three sets of papers and then sit back and read her favorite book while at the same time having the political talk shows on in the background. To her last days, she was as caught up on current events as she had ever been and still had her strong opinions about them. She also enjoyed walks with her husband, Friday night dinner at the La Forge and of course, long days at Gooseberry Beach, where she enjoyed time with her children and grandchildren, as well as close friends.
Claire is survived by her children, Susan O’Connor (Kevin) of Portsmouth, David Curtis (Sandy) of Middletown, Stephen Curtis of Newport, Jeffery Curtis (Ginny) of Middletown and Martina Aldrich (Bruce) of Middletown. She also leaves her grandchildren Morgan, Taylor, Michael, Claire and Samantha, her brothers, Jerry Randall and Dick Randall, her sister in-law Eula Curtis and brother in-law Alexander (Al) Curtis along with several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her eldest daughter Cathy, her brother Jack, sister Cheryl, brother in-law Thomas(Tom) Curtis and sister in-laws Agnes Curtis, Marion Randall and Rita Randall.
To our sister Martina, words cannot express how grateful we are to you for your love, dedication, compassion and support of our Mother over the last several years. We simply could not have allowed her the dignity of leaving this world as she did without you. We are eternally grateful for all you did and hope you find peace and comfort knowing Mom is in a better place.
The family would also like to express a huge thank you to Kathryn Cox and her daughter Sarah Brousseau, whose love and support of our Mom was invaluable and a great source of comfort to her and her family over her final days, as well as the Hospice team who supported her and her family.
Visiting hours with be held on Wednesday, June 16from 4:00pm – 7:00pm at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport. Her funeral with be held Thursday, June 17 at St Lucy’s Church, 909 West Main Road, Middletown at a time to be announced. Burial will follow at St. Columba Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Child & Family RI, 31 John Clarke Road, Middletown, RI 02842 or by visiting www.childandfamilyri.com or to charity of your choice.