Claire Rose Vessey of Aptos passed away peacefully at her home on January 31, 2023, surrounded by family and friends. She lived 90 remarkable years, gracing all who knew her with kindness, love of family and her sweet smile.
For the past several years Claire had been living with cognitive impairment. Even so, she was always happy and enjoyed life. She sang songs, read books, enjoyed her chocolate and especially her gelato. She adored pictures of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and whenever possible, she loved seeing them.
Claire was born in Cherokee, Kansas, the youngest of five children of John and Clementina Doris, who had immigrated from Italy after WWI. After the death of Claire’s father, the family moved during the Depression to California, and she spent her childhood in Hollister, California surrounded by her large and loving Italian family.
She met Robert E. Vessey at Hollister High, and they married in 1951. They had four children together: Richard Carroll (1952), JoAnne Marie (1954), Bruce Eric (1959), and Robert Jr. (1966). Robert and she founded Vessey Drugs in Aptos and built a successful business, still fondly remembered by many in the Aptos community. She was active in the business and in raising her four children. Robert and she did a lot of hard wo and spent long hours with the ever growing and expanding Vessey Drugs.
Robert and Claire divorced in the early 1970s. After that, she obtained her Real Estate Brokers License and actively worked in residential real estate in Aptos for many years, first with Mary Murray Realty and then with Keith Jackson & Associates. From the late 1970s until 2022, she lived in Aptos with her companion Curtis Bowden. They traveled extensively and enjoyed many good years together.
Claire absolutely loved watching and playing tennis, and she was a member of the Seascape Tennis Club for many years. She also loved bridge and had weekly bridge sessions with her friends.
Claire adored her garden. It brought her joy every day of her life. She always had fresh flowers displayed throughout her home.
Claire was predeceased by her sons Richard. C. Vessey, who died in an automobile accident in 1986 and Robert E. Vessey Jr., who died last year from cancer. She is survived by Richard’s widow Cher Vessey Messersmith and Robert Jr.’s widow Fani Vessey.
She is survived by her daughter JoAnne Birmingham, JoAnne’s husband Hobey, and her son Bruce. She is also survived by five grandchildren, ten great grandchildren and a large extended family, all of whom she adored and who adored her. Her grandchildren are Forest Flager, Morgan Flager, Katy Vessey, Maggie Kretschmar and Lucas Vessey.
Claire was blessed with an “angel” who became a friend and caregiver in her last years, Josie Miguel. They adored each other, and the family greatly appreciated Josie’s efforts in making the final years of Claire’s life as comfortable and happy as possible.
We will always remember Claire for the warmth and kindness she radiated, her sweet smile, her joyful spirit, love of life, and devotion to her family and friends. She enjoyed being with people and came alive in social settings. She was a delight to all who knew her. She lived a long, blessed life in her home in Aptos, where she was truly happy. She was a loving mother/grandmother/great grandmother, and a woman of loyalty and strength.
We are proud to have had her as a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She made us better and stronger human beings.
A celebration of Claire’s life will be held later this year for her family and friends.