Cover photo for Claire Elizabeth Franklin Baxter's Obituary
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1931 Claire 2024

Claire Elizabeth Franklin Baxter

March 26, 1931 — January 13, 2024

Claire "Clairelis" Eaton Franklin Baxter graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Agnes Scott College. That is the first sentence she wanted in her obituary. She was the smartest woman in the room and the most approachable. She never met a stranger, and she could learn (and remember) everything about your life and family with one conversation. When you walked through Athens with her, every single person knew her either because she had taught them or because she had volunteered with them or just because she had met them somewhere.

She was a committed and dedicated member of many communities, taking on volunteer jobs in social justice initiatives, the UGA University Women, the ARC, the Stephen ministry, and her beloved Classic Center where she ushered for concerts and theater.

When she took on a project or a cause, there was no stopping her. Clairelis was a much-loved friend to a wide circle of women and delighted in regular lunches with them. Her twelve grandchildren and their partners were devoted to her and called her "Granny," and she insisted their friends did too. People admired her for her intellect, her sense of humor, and her strong opinions. She was always the first to help anyone who was in any kind of need, pain, or misfortune.

Her son-in-law Jonathan said it best - "Everyone needed a [our] Granny in their pocket. That way, whenever you needed something, she would make sure it got done."

In 1964, she and her now-deceased husband, Rudy Franklin, a professor at UGA, moved to Athens with their five little children. Not much of a housekeeper or cook, anyone was welcome in her home at any time. She always made them feel comfortable and part of the family. As her children went to college, she went back into the classroom as a high school advanced English teacher. When she got crosswise with the principal by complaining about the unfairness that the cheerleaders had to clean up the football players' locker room, he tried to punish her by giving her the remedial classes. As a quiet subversive, she outsmarted him and had her classes performing Shakespeare, writing letters to Eli Weisel after reading 'Night, and making sure they knew their worth by presenting them with t-shirts that said "Mrs. Baxter thinks I'm great."

She had the good fortune of a second marriage of 24 happy years to Bill Baxter, retired Army colonel and UGA professor, who predeceased her. For a time, they travelled around the country in their camper making friends along the way. They were actively involved in the Athens Council on Aging where she, among many, many other things, taught poetry to those who were served there.

Clairelis lived her life with keen curiosity and admiration for the arts. She was a voracious reader, loved opera, the theater, and could hold a conversation with anyone on just about anything. She grew old gracefully, doting on grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and everyone in between. Her death leaves a void in many lives and many parts of the Athens community.

She is survived by her children Catherine (Andy), Tom, Julie (Mark), Elizabeth (Mike, deceased), and Mike (Becky), twelve grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. A celebration of her life well-lived will be at Jekyll Island, Georgia in July 2024 at dusk. All are welcome.

In her memory, please feel free to make a donation to the Athens Council on Aging or your favorite cause.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Claire Elizabeth Franklin Baxter, please visit our flower store.


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