Early Tuesday morning, February 18, 2020 we said goodbye to Claudia Louise Kelly (Perry). After fighting a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, Claudia passed at home with her beloved husband Ron and her loving daughters Kati and Amy, and her dog Charlie.
Claudia was born August 22, 1944 in Oakland, CA to George and Alice Perry. Claudia grew up in the home her father built in San Leandro, next door to her grandmother. When together the kids would be in hysterics, sharing of stories of hijinks, like their famous mashed potato war. Claudia fondly remembered spending her summers playing with her brothers and sister at their cabin in Calaveras County, a house that she took her girls to see when they were about the same age she was when she played there.
After graduating from San Leandro High School in 1962, Claudia took a job as a secretary with NATO in Paris, France. There she found her love of cooking, travel and a sweet tooth for French chocolate. After two years of service, Claudia returned home to California. Claudia was working as a legal secretary at Ackeret, Colteaux and Laird in San Rafael when she quite literally stumbled upon Ron, as she tripped into his office. Ron told his coworker right then that he wanted to get to know her and six month later, on August 12, 1972, they were married in a small backyard wedding, Claudia in a blue striped dress, adorned with her favorite flower, daisies.
After living in both San Rafael, and Santa Rosa, Ron and Claudia settled into their home in Sonoma Valley where they raised Kati and Amy. Claudia was an avid sports fan. She loved watching the Giants and cheering on the Warriors. But, she was dedicated most to her beloved Oakland Raiders. You could find Ron and Claudia hooting or hollering at the TV every Sunday and Monday the Raiders were on. Their first dog was named Raider and Ron and Claudia attended the 1977 Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl when the Raiders WON!! The entire day cost them $200!
When she wasn’t watching sports, Claudia spent hours tending to her garden or party planning while listening to Neil Diamond, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Abba, or country music. She loved American Idol, specially Kelly, Clay and Carrie. Claudia was an amazing cook and baker and is famous for her frozen chocolate cheesecakes. She loved having dinners out in the backyard in the summer surrounded by friends and family. She was the “hostest with the mostest” and the parties she planned were so memorable. Every event was master planned. Appetizers and cocktails selected, table set, floral arrangements from her yard on the table, enough homemade dinner to feed an army, and she always had some kind of new chocolate dessert recipe she had made to try, topped with hand whipped cream, of course. If you went home hungry (or without leftovers), “you had no one to blame but yourself”. Anyone was welcome to come or stay for dinner. Many Friday nights were spent with several of Kati or Amy’s friends packed around the table while she joyfully provided spaghetti dinners or nacho nights.
Her time in Paris started her love affair with traveling. Claudia worked part-time for years as a travel agent. One of the perks of her job was travel rewards, which allowed Ron and Claudia to travel to Mexico, Jamaica, and Hawaii, which turned into their favorite vacation spot. They took countless trips to Maui and Kauai with their family and close friends, their last visit to celebrate the wedding of a close family friend. Claudia loved to travel and took advantage of her “school schedule” which allowed her and Ron to take the girls on trips every spring break and summer, Disneyland, Arizona, Alaska, Paris and Italy to name a few.
Claudia was a devoted mom and worked jobs that allowed her to spend as much time as possible with her girls. When the girls were young, Claudia ran a home daycare for several years where daycare created many treasured lifelong family friendships. The daycare even established a spot in the Sonoma Valley Fourth of July parade- “Claudia’s Big Wheel Brigade ''. Claudia helped with Girl Scouts, was on the PTA at El Verano Elementary, took the girls to horseback riding lessons and shows every week for a decade, cheered on her girls at tennis games or Amy’s piano recitals, helped with SVHS floats, went to every football game the girls allowed her at, volunteered with Grad Nights, and visited the girls down south at the University of La Verne, where they both attended college, treating their friends and roommates to home cooked meals or dinners out regularly. She was famous for sending care packages with enough chocolate and home baked cookies to feed half the kids in the dorms.
Claudia’s true calling was caring for children. She was patient, kind and caring. In 1988, Claudia took a job at Sassarini Elementary which was the start of her almost 25 year career with Sonoma Valley Unified School District. She worked as the school secretary for years, before moving to the district office where she worked as an Administrative Assistant in the Human Resources Department until retiring. Following her retirement, Claudia volunteered in Amy’s classroom at Adele Harrison helping kids with their homework, reading and grammar.
In 2017, Claudia was gifted with her first granddaughter, Brooklyn (Amy and Adam), and soon after Quinn. She loved spending time with her granddaughters- going on walks, playing at the park, or going to gymnastics with Brooklyn, which was always followed up with a mocha and chocolate croissant for Claudia and a cookie for Brooklyn. Grammy even helped Brooklyn and Quinn develop their love for ice cream- treating them both to their first taste of the good stuff. Claudia doted on her granddaughters and they love and miss their Grammy.
Claudia was kind, caring, loving and thoughtful. She was a gentle force of nature. She left impressions on all those she touched. She was always the first to offer help and did so with a happy smile on her face. Claudia and Ron spent 47 wonderful years together. They created a happy, loving life for Kati and Amy full of incredible memories they will always cherish. She was blessed with wonderful friends who loved and supported her until her very last day. Claudia leaves behind several siblings with whom she cherished spending quality time with throughout her life, especially in the last months and years of her life: Roy (Anne), Greg (Lynde), Steve and Nadine (John), as well as several nieces and nephews. She loved her nieces and nephews and held them in heart always. She also leaves behind Ron's son, Adrian (Liz) and their children, whom she enjoyed meeting and spending time with over the last three years. Claudia was preceded in death by her brother Jeffery.
A Celebration of Life is tentatively planned for Claudia on Friday, May 8, 2020 at 3 pm at Benziger Family Winery. Remembrances will be shared around 4 pm and there will be plentiful chocolate desserts for all.
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Heartland Hospice Fund
Alzheimer's Association of Northern California
2290 North First Street, Suite 101, San Jose CA 95131