Our beautiful mother, Claire Bishop, passed away peacefully on June 26 at the age of 72. She died at home, surrounded by her children.
The eldest child of Walter and Elisabeth Benson, Claire was born in Philadelphia on March 10, 1942. She and her brother and sister enjoyed a Northeastern upbringing, spending memorable summers at the New Jersey shoreline. After graduating from Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, she traveled west to attend UC Santa Barbara. While living in Isla Vista, she met the love of her life, Hugh Bishop. That chance meeting led to a loving marriage and partnership that would take her to Panama as a military wife, San Diego, and ultimately back to Goleta where she and Hugh settled down to raise their family. Then Hugh died in 1978. Devastated but resilient, Claire moved forward; she had much to do and a young family who needed her.
Working to put herself through night school and finish her Business Economics degree at UCSB, Claire began her professional career with the State of California as an administrator with the Parks and Recreation Department. She helped facilitate numerous innovative projects that improved the experience for thousands of visitors to the state beaches in Santa Barbara and Ventura. She retired in 2004, proud of her accomplishments and the relationships she had developed with her colleagues over a 26-year career.
Retirement did not slow Claire down. She quickly found herself engaged in volunteer activities, including a five-year stretch at the Botanic Gardens and an appointment to the Santa Barbara Civil Grand Jury.
Her retirement years brought significant time with her grandchildren Ben, Aden, Eric, and Cate, which kept her young at heart and laughing more than she had in many years. She also fulfilled her lifelong ambition to travel, dashing annually to many of her dream destinations, including Italy, Germany, France, New York to see Broadway shows, and her most beloved locale, London. Her daughters were always with her – usually trying to keep up. These adventures were the gifts she gave herself after a lifetime of hard work. She cherished these moments abroad and the opportunity to share them with her girls.
A voracious reader, Claire was exceedingly bright, dry witted, and strong willed. Her children will always remember coming in from a day of play and finding her with her feet propped on the ottoman, a book splayed across her chest, a dog at her side, catching a brief nap after a long week. She led by example and instilled in her children a tremendous work ethic and a sense of integrity for which they are grateful. While it was often a struggle, she gave her family everything she could. It was more than enough.
Claire was predeceased by her husband Hugh and brother Walter. She is survived by her three children, Lisa Figueroa of Chula Vista, CA, Jonathan Bishop of Goleta, CA, and Amanda Bishop of Aptos, CA; adoring grandchildren, Daniel Figueroa, Benjamin Bishop, Aden Bishop, Cate Bishop, and Eric Figueroa; sister Carolyn Rehder of Chesterfield, MO; and her closest companions – her animals – whom she cared for profoundly.
Claire’s family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the many people who tended to her with precision and love. Special thanks to everyone on 5 South at Cottage Hospital and Valle Verde who provided such exceptional care. And to Laura from Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care who helped her transition peacefully.
Memorial contributions may be made to DAWG (www.sbdawg.org).
So long, Mom. You left behind many who love and admire you.