Friday, December 16th
8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, Richboro
800 Newtown-Richboro Road
Richboro, PA 18954
Friday, December 16th
St. Bede The Venerable Church
1071 Holland Road
Holland, PA 18966
Friday, December 16th
Washington Crossing National Cemetery
830 Highland Road
Newtown, PA 18940
Claire Theresa Walton (Guertin)
Claire Theresa Walton (nee Guertin)
Sunrise: July 5, 1926
Sunset: December 6, 2016
“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” William Shakespeare may have written these words about one of his characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but they might be applied just as aptly to Claire Theresa Walton, who, in her 5’ frame, united seemingly limitless intelligence, humor, compassion and strength. She loved fiercely, was fiercely loyal, and took on life with a fiercely iconoclastic and refreshing slant. After 90 revolutions around the sun, Claire’s Lord called her home on December 6, 2016.
Claire was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 5, 1926 to an English mother, Ellen Richarby Guertin, and a Quebecois father, Maurice Marc Guertin. In many ways, Claire’s personality reflected her heritage, combining the wild beauty of the Yorkshire moors with offbeat French humor and originality. The only girl in a family with four brothers, Claire attended Little Flower School in Philadelphia, and graduated from St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls (Class of 1944), where she was a pioneer “Bambi”.
With a penchant for jazzy ankle strap shoes and a deep appreciation for music, particularly Big Band songs, The Mills Brothers’ “Paper Doll” and the stylings of a young Frank Sinatra, whom she saw in concert many times, Claire loved to dance. It was at a church dance that Claire met a La Salle boy who would become her soulmate. Claire and Francis (“Frank”) Joseph Walton were married on February 3, 1951, and shared 61 years together, until Frank went to be with the Lord in 2012.
Frank was a lifelong educator whose work ultimately took him and Claire to New Jersey. It was there that the couple raised their two daughters, Claire Ellen and Andrea. They also shared their home with numerous strays and rescues, canine and feline, as well as birds, fish, turtles and even a hermit crab! A particularly memorable example of Claire’s passion for God’s creatures comes from a time when the family had rented a home at the shore for a week. A thunderstorm had broken out at sea and brisk winds whipped around the house. Responding to their mother’s call to come to her, the Walton girls found Claire ensconced on the stairs leading to the home’s loft, a birdcage on her lap and a shaggy terrier pressed against her legs. Providing comfort and protection for those she loved and for individuals in need – two-legged and four-legged – was important to Claire, even to the final days of her life. More than anything, she wanted those about whom she cared to be happy, safe and well.
Claire possessed a keen eye for details and strong interpersonal and office skills. For many years, she enjoyed a fulfilling career as a legal secretary in the Princeton, NJ, area and also worked in the College Counselor’s office at The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. At Peddie, Claire was beloved by many staff members and students, to whom she often seemed a second Mom. She inspired many with her integrity, and delighted them with her offbeat and witty, but always gentle, humor.
Indeed, humor and intelligence were among Claire’s most enduring characteristics. When asked by their eldest daughter if “Mom was always like that,” Francis replied, “Yes, she was a little bit kooky and I really liked that about her.” Claire enjoyed “Candid Camera”-type pranks and wrote highly imaginative rhymes and poems which she enjoyed sharing with others. She also had a wonderful laugh, and cherished good times with family and friends. As a special gift, she modelled for her daughters the unique beauty and strength of friendships forged with other exemplary women, both those from within the traditional family and those who became family members by choice and affinity.
Claire also possessed a strong creative streak. Who else might have envisioned chasing her children around the house with lobster tails when the kids were bad (back in the day when lobster tails were affordable and the girls were young enough to be cowed by prehistoric-looking creatures in shells!) Who else would have thought of securing buttons on a red coat with cinnamon dental floss, or using material from the hem of a dress to fashion a huge rose that effectively obscured any view of cleavage on her daughter’s prom dress? Affectionately nicknamed “The Innovator,” Claire could instill terror in her daughters and husband simply with the phrase, “I can fix that for you!”
One day, many years ago, Claire was having an argument with her daughters and said, “You’ll be sorry – one of these days I’m going to die.” All at once, the electricity went out and the room was cloaked in darkness. Silence ruled until Claire pondered aloud, “Am I in Heaven or in Hell?” Silence continued for a few seconds more, until the girls erupted into peals of laughter. Claire’s colorful response cannot be repeated here but, happily, because of the atoning work of the risen Christ, we are comforted in knowing that she is, indeed, in Heaven, with her Lord, and reunited with “Little Frankie” and beloved friends and family members, including “little dawgs” and other pets. We look forward to seeing her again one day and sharing a cup of “cawfee” at the Lamb’s banquet!
Claire is survived by her daughter, Claire Ellen, and daughter and son-in-law, Andrea and Hamid; a brother, Edgar Guertin (Dot); a sister-in-law, Gwyn Pollock Walton; many nieces and nephews; several close friends; and 5 fur grandbabies.
Relatives and friends are invited to greet Claire’s family on Friday, December 16, 2016 from 8:30 – 9:30 AM at the Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Rd. (at Holland Rd.), Richboro, PA 18954 and to her Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM at St. Bede the Venerable Church, 1071 Holland Rd., Holland, PA 18966. Her interment will follow at 11:30 AM at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are invited to the following:
American Heart Association – https://donatenow.heart.org (click on “memorial”)
Animal Alliance of Belle Mead – donate securely online at www.animalalliancenj.org (click on “honorarium & memorial gifts”) or via check to Animal Alliance, PO Box 1285, Belle Mead, NJ 08502