Claire Wetherell

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Claire Wetherell

Rose Claire Hart Wetherell was born on Feb. 18, 1919, in Flandreau, S.D. She passed on Nov. 7, 2010, in Boise, Idaho, and is now with her husband, Bob, daughter Ellen and son Dennis, who predeceased her.

A rosary will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14, and a funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m., on Monday, Nov. 15, both to be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 115 N. 4th East St., in Mountain Home. Burial with military honors will follow at Mountain View Cemetery in Mountain Home. Arrangements are under the direction of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home.

Claire suffered a stroke on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Many members of her family were able to visit her at her bedside and stay with her on a 24-hour a day basis for the next three days. She had the opportunity to be with her two sons, Mike and Bob, and her daughters in-law, Karen, Deborah and Jill, over that time and to see her grandchildren before she died with Bob and Mike holding her hands when she passed.

Claire, Mom, Grams, Great-Grandma Wetherell was the youngest of six children born to Thomas James Hart and Margaret Louise Hart. Her brothers Tom, Clete, Vince and her sisters Anna Marie and Margaret Aileen predeceased her. Her mother died shortly after Claire was born and her stepmother, Minnie, and her father raised the younger children. Her grandfather, Edward Hart was active in Democratic politics and served in the Iowa State Legislature.

Claire graduated from Flandreau High School in 1937, where she was elected senior class president and attended the University of California-Berkley, in pre-nursing. After obtaining her degree from the University of California, she attended the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She graduated with honors in 1942 and was immediately commissioned as a nurse in the United States Navy Nursing Corps.

Claire was stationed in Bremerton, Wash. While in Bremerton she met Robert Miles Wetherell, a handsome pharmacist's mate. They fell in love and were married on Aug. 28, 1943, in Bremerton. Under the rules in effect at the time, she was required to resign from the Navy. Claire was immediately hired as the head of nursing at Roosevelt Hospital in Bremerton where she continued to work until the end of the war in the Pacific in 1945.

Claire returned with Bob to Boise in 1946. The couple eventually moved to Bob's hometown of Mountain Home in 1946. They purchased a Victorian style home on Third Street, where the family lived until the early 1960s. Mike was born in 1945, Dennis in 1947, Ellen in 1955 and Robert ("Bobby") in 1958.

Mike and Karen have three children -- Kelly Daly, Kristen Rountree, and Katherine Crozier. Dennis and Jill have two sons -- Matt Wetherell and Mark Wetherell. Ellen and Jim have two children -- Ben Hermann and Annie Poppelwell, and Bob and Deborah have two children -- Marie Ellen and R. John Wetherell. Claire had nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Claire proudly took over the family title insurance company, Guaranty Title, Inc., upon the death of her husband. Claire was highly esteemed and an honored member of The Idaho Land Title Association. She even held the presidency at one time.

Claire served as the head of the Legisladies during part of Bob's service in the Senate.

Claire was instrumental in getting a doctor, Malone Koelsch, to Mountain Home. Claire had been in effect a "nurse practitioner" before that title even existed. She then worked with a group of other concerned women to pass a bond issue, which resulted in the construction of the Elmore County Hospital in Mountain Home in 1955.

From 1962 to 1972, Claire was the vice-chairman of the Idaho State Democratic Party.

Claire became the first woman president of the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. She helped form the Business and Professional Woman's Club in Mountain Home.

Claire served on the Idaho Veteran's Affairs Commission, including a four-year stint as its chairman. She helped form and was a past president of the Elmore Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and a strong advocate for improved nursing education and adequate funding for the BSU and the Lewis and Clark schools of nursing.

After World War II, she was the director of the USO in Mountain Home for several years.

She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Elkettes, and the Our Lady of Good Counsel Alter Society.

She became the first woman elected to the Mountain Home City Council, becoming its first woman president, and she served in the post for eight years.

Claire served in the Idaho State Senate for 12 years, retiring in 1996.

Claire was honored as the Grand Marshal of the Mountain Home Air Force Appreciation Day parade.

In 2006, the hospital Auxiliary honored Claire for her lifetime of achievements and she was given a key to the city. After expressing her thanks, she said she was hopeful they "wouldn't change the locks now." Also, in 2006, the City of Mountain Home dedicated a park as the Rose Claire Hart Wetherell Park in her honor.

She was honored by the Idaho Statesman with its Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen award. She was also honored in the U.S. Congressional Record and with a memorial resolution by the Idaho State Senate in 2010.

Claire was a devoted and active Catholic and served twice as president of the Alter Society and was recognized by the Catholic Church of Idaho as Idaho Catholic Woman of the Year in 1989.

In December of 2009, she was honored as being one of the most influential women in the history of Idaho nursing when the book "Charting Idaho Nursing History" was released by Randall Hudspeth and Verlene D. Kaiser. Throughout her career, Claire could always be counted on to take a shift at the hospital to help supplement the nursing staff.

Even after she was required to move to an assisted care facility in Boise in late 2008, she continued to make new friends and was selected to represent the Marquis Care Facility in Boise as its Rose Queen candidate for the year 2010 and traveled to Portland to take part in the 16th Annual Rose Queen Tea on April 21, 2010. She said she "had a ball."

Her friendships were many but the closest was her bridge club. Claire was a Master Player and enjoyed the friendships of the women with whom she played weekly.

She loved her God, her church, her family and community. She was blessed with many friends and a long and fruitful life.

The family wishes to thank all of the many friends and caregivers who helped our mother during these last few years: the staff at Cedar Crest, Dr. Michael Koelsch, the staff at Marquis Care in Boise, especially Patty Leppert who did so much to help and give special care and comfort to our mother, Dr. Robert Freidman and the staff of United Hospice who showed special concern, care and attention during these last few weeks, Jerry Rost of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, Monsignor W. Thomas Faucher and Father Ron Wekerle of Jerome for all of their help, comfort and guidance during these last days.

The family requests memorials be made to: the Elmore Medical Center Foundation, P.O. Box 1270, Mountain Home, ID 83647; The Mountain Home Public Library, 790 N. 10th East St., Mountain Home, ID 83647; The Claire Wetherell Park c/o The Mountain Home Parks and Recreation Department, 795 S. 5th West St., Mountain Home, ID 83647, or a charity of your choice.