spitlerWEBspitler youngWEBClare Blackford Spitler, 91, of Ann Arbor, MI passed away gracefully at 7:55 p.m. on Saturday, December 27, 2014 after a very long and frustrating struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Clare was born (originally as Maxine!) on February 2, 1923, to the late Aaron Frederick and Mary (Bryan) Blackford in Findlay, OH. She was married to Dr. John D. Spitler from 1946 to 1977. Clare is survived by her son, Gregg S. Spitler (Ann Williams) of Richmond, VA; daughter, Amy (Jim) Ticknor of Ann Arbor, MI; son, Kevin B. Spitler (Carla Anderson) of Middleton, WI; daughter, Carrie (David) Kennedy of Middletown, OH; and sister: Margaret “Peggy” Blackford Slough of Findlay. She regretfully leaves behind grandchildren Abigail, Jeffrey (Mackenzie) and Jamie Ticknor, Amelia, Aaron and Cole Spitler, James Kennedy and great-grandchildren Wesley and Mya Ticknor. She was recently preceded in death by her sister Barbara Blackford Holmes.
Clare was a 1940 graduate of Findlay High School and attended DePauw University first, then — due to rationing during World War II — the University of Michigan where she earned a chemistry degree in 1944. She was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority for 73 years and active with the UM Beta Delta chapter well into her seventies. Following graduation, Clare worked for Parke-Davis and Company in Detroit. In addition to raising four children in Findlay, Ohio she served from 1963-1971 on the city’s Board of Education, using the campaign slogan “If You Care, Vote for Clare.” She was active in the community with Findlay branches of Panhellenic, the American Association of University Women, Coterie, and Zonta women’s service and social organizations. In 1965 Clare opened Gallery One, a business devoted to showcasing original artwork created by regional artists. In 1977 Clare moved the gallery to Ann Arbor and opened Clare Spitler Works of Art, which she operated for the next 25 years, nurturing many talented and interesting artists.
Over the years in Ann Arbor she was often asked to help jury art shows. She wrote an art column for the Ann Arbor News and she served as a YMCA board member at the time it was planning the new building at the current 400 W. Washington location. Clare tap danced as a child on stage at the Harris Theater in Findlay and resumed tapping as a senior with the Footloose Fancies in Ann Arbor. She also was an active member of the Unitarian Church and practiced yoga into her golden years. Sympathizing with the less-fortunate, she looked for ways to help or hire those who were on hard times. Though not a woman of great financial means, she was a person of great heart, role model for many, and a steady and calming influence for her family.
Clare loved the romance of travel, particularly to France, and even invested in a project to refurbish the 17th-century Chateau de Lurcy-Levis that was used to store French government gold during WWII. She was also an avid lover of jazz and a regular at Friday evening performances at The Bird of Paradise and The Firefly clubs. Her many interests extended to cooking so she experimented on her family with new recipes, then had them vote as to whether they’d want to eat the dish again in the future.
Her legacy lives on in four children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, as well as other extended family members and those who were fortunate enough to cross her path. The family would like to thank the many individuals who worked with and assisted Clare during her extended suffering with Alzheimer’s. Special gratitude is extended to granddaughter Abby Ticknor and her partner Dennis Fortson who took care of Clare during the most difficult last few years. We miss you Mimi!
A celebration of Clare’s life will be held at a gathering of family and friends in the spring and a notice regarding it will follow.
Memorials may be made to the invaluable Silver Club (http://www.med.umich.edu/geriatrics/community/silverclub.htm), which is a daytime enrichment program for those with memory loss that is run by the University of Michigan’s Turner Senior Resource Center.