Claire Valerie Owen 1934-2022

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Claire Valerie Owen 1934-2022

On October 17, 2022, a five foot, 110 pound package of sugar, spice and TNT named Claire Owen, quietly and courageously slipped beyond the veil to claim our Maker’s promise of everlasting life. She was 88.

Born Claire Valerie Marchesseault on Valentine’s Day 1934, she came of age on the FS ranch in the Grasshopper Valley. It’s said that tough times make tough people and Claire and her five siblings were living proof, growing up during the lean years of the Great Depression and World War Two they scratched ice off the inside of their bedroom windowpanes - read by the light of kerosene lamps – and stood in the back of their uncle’s car all the way to Rainy Mountain for a rare day of skiing.

And yet, rumor has it that young Claire led her brothers into all kinds of adventurous and merry hijinks, only to magically disappear when the discipline was meted out. When asked what she remembered most about her youth, she jokingly replied, “Well… I washed a lot of dishes.” Despite a stint in finishing school, Claire eventually fell for the ‘bad boy’ of BCHS, who infamously wooed her by using a cigarette lighter to set her skirt on fire during class. Her marriage to Leroy Owen ignited a love of the open road, riding shotgun as Leroy hauled cattle all over the western United States and Canada.

Claire curtailed her travels a bit to raise two children - Donna and Bennett - who adored her, primarily because Rudyard Kipling was her main source of bedtime stories. When in doubt, Rikki Tikki Tavi was always a crowd pleaser and it surely inspired her kids to embark on their own adventures in later years. Claire peppered in her own words of wisdom from time to time: “Bennett, never ASK a girl if you can kiss her” and; “Donna, make yourself rare. You want to be a mystery.” Indeed, Claire was a very private person but those she cared for felt her love abundantly.

Claire earned her teaching degree at Western and later earned a certificate in Library Science. She lived in Portland, Oregon with her family and eventually moved to Salt Lake City to be near her daughter. She spent the last six years in Dillon to be close to her large extended family.

Throughout her colorful life, Claire embraced several overriding passions. One was art, she spent many hours in museums, going to art auctions and reading about art of the American West. Another interest was a love of ballroom dancing, a pastime she participated in as frequently as possible, even while lamenting that, “There are too few men who know how to lead.”

But most importantly, she was an ardent and outspoken advocate of the American Ideal small of stature, yet, just as our Founding Fathers, in matters of principle she stood like a rock.

Claire is survived by her children, Donna Poulton and Bennett Owen; grandchildren, Christopher and Eva Owen; brothers, Robert, Jules and Gordon(Tex)Marchesseault as well as an abundance of nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Cora Odessa and Robert Dewey Marchesseau; sister, Estelle Blomquist; brother, James Marchesseault and niece, Brenda Weber.

A reception was held in her honor at the Sweetwater Café at 24 S. Idaho St, Dillon, MT on Monday, the 24th of October.