Claire Larabie

The recent death of Claire Larabie leaves a huge gap in the caring community of North Grenville. Claire was a dynamic personality who had an effect on more people in this area than anyone might have imagined. It seemed that no matter what the emergency situation, Claire was the first to know about it and organise a helping hand in response. Individuals in need, families left homeless after a house fire, or the everyday ups and downs that left people in need – whatever it was, Claire was to be found working to put things right.

Her main focus was through a partnership she helped put together, the North Grenville Community Service Council (NGCSC), a Board made up of representatives from the Kemptville Lions Club, the Kemptville Kinsmen, the Rotary Club of Kemptville, the Knights of Columbus 5333, and Legion 212. The Board’s mandate is to look into emergency requests that are sent to member groups. Any local organization or individual can send in a request to the members to be assessed by the Board.

Every year, for example, Claire organised the NGCSC Christmas Food Hampers and Gifts which are delivered to families and seniors. The Special Need Program provides help to families coping with illness in the home. Community merchants and private residents sponsor those who are dealing with health issues, or for children with a disability. Claire’s involvement in all of these projects put her in touch with people across the community, and she was always there ready to do whatever was needed. She was also extremely good at getting other people, businesses, and groups involved – a real gift she enjoyed. Jim Beveridge of the B&H learned that early on. “In the transition between the B&H being operated by my father, and Judy and I taking over, there were many questions to ask about why things were the way they were.

When I asked Harry Pratt about Claire, he responded with a chuckle and what I found to be great advice. ‘When Claire asks you to do something, just say yes. It’s a lot easier than trying to explain why you can’t, only to find yourself doing it anyway’”.

Judy Littau of Royal LePage is one of the organisers of the Mountain of Toys drive every Christmas, and knew Claire very well indeed.

“Claire was Kemptville’s Mrs Claus. Christmas was one of her favourite times of year. She would open up her basement every year and turn it into Santa’s workshop organizing toys for less fortunate kids in North Grenville. She didn’t just give a toy, but found out personally what was on each child’s wish list and made sure the child got what they asked Santa for. Claire knew where to find donors in our great community, and if she couldn’t find donors, she was known to reach into her own pocket and purchase the gift. She had the biggest most generous heart of anyone I knew. She will be greatly missed.”

Another fan of Claire’s, and one who knew the extent of her contribution to the community, is Frank Hoffman, owner of Kemptville’s Canadian Tire store. He worked with Claire on the JumpStart program over the years, gathering funds to help children get involved in sports they might otherwise not have been able to afford.

“I have known and worked with Claire for over 15 years now. She was the Canadian Tire JumpStart Ambassador for most of those years, looking after all the children who applied for financial help to play sports. She had such a big heart that she would approve 90% of them and then call me to see how we can get the other 10% some monetary assistance. She would even offer money out of her own pocket, so no one would be left behind!

Frank continued. “Claire would also help any family or individual who needed help by calling the Rotary Club, the Lion’s Club, Knights of Columbus, or any other groups, and she would not let this idle until a solution was found! Having such an individual living in North Grenville with the willingness to help others was really heart warming! It was an honour knowing her!

She will be sorely missed and I know she was greeted with open arms by all the Angels above, since she became one herself! 

I am glad your pain is gone, may you rest in peace my friend! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication in helping others!”

And there were so many other causes to which Claire gave her time, her energy, her money and her love. Think of her when you see the Duck Race on the South Branch. There are, as yet, no arrangements for a funeral service for Claire: it was not something she wanted. But remember and honour her, perhaps, in supporting those causes she championed so well and for so long. That would be a great and lasting tribute.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Claire was a ambassador of our town. She worked hard to serve our community ! Wow i’m over whelmed by her Loss. We love you Claire . RIP you will never be forgotten!
    My Sincere sympathies to Claires Family!

  2. My condolences to Claire’s family you will not be forgotten for all your good you have done for many people may you rest in peace

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