Published On: Wed, Mar 27th, 2024

Claire T. Carney

Claire T. Carney died peacefully on March 24, 2024, at her home in Boca Raton, Florida, at age 101. A beloved family matriarch and education advocate, Claire was known for her decades-long dedication to mentoring women and her efforts to expand educational opportunities on the South Coast and beyond. She leaves behind a legacy of kindness, love, and humility.

Claire was born in New Bedford on June 18, 1922, to Roseanna and Philippe Galipeau. She attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and New Bedford High School. During World War II, Claire worked in various positions for the US government. In 1944, she married the great love of her life, Hugh J. Carney, at Sacred Heart Parish in New Bedford. Tragically, Hugh died unexpectedly in 1962, leaving Claire a widowed mother of four young children. To support her family, she took a position at Morse Twist Drill in New Bedford.

Her faith, resilience, and business intuition enabled Claire to persevere through life’s hardships. She believed in herself and others. In 1968, she used the small insurance policy she received following Hugh’s death to invest in the founding of Claremont Companies. Started at her dining room table by her eldest son, Patrick, Claremont Companies quickly grew into a highly successful real estate development and management firm. Claire left Morse Twist Drill to serve as Claremont’s founding treasurer, a position she held until her retirement in 1988.

A lifelong advocate for education, Claire never gave up on her dream of a college education. At age 50, she earned her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University (which became UMass Dartmouth in 1991). Subsequently, Claire devoted her time and talents to helping others pursue their educational and career goals. In 1981, Governor Michael Dukakis appointed her as the first woman trustee to the SMU Board of Trustees, where she served two terms. Claire received the SMU Alumni Association Service Award in 1982, the university’s Centennial Award in 1997, and an honorary doctorate in 1990. In 2006, the UMass Dartmouth library was named the Claire T. Carney Library in her honor—a recognition she described as her greatest pleasure. 

Claire cherished her family, friends, and neighbors. She loved art, history, and travel. She found delight in animals, especially small dogs and tropical birds. She was proud of her French-Canadian heritage and her New Bedford roots. In her later years, she regularly emailed her children and grandchildren and followed their activities on Facebook. A devout Catholic, Claire had a particular fondness for angels. She had a large collection of angel figurines and would often gift them to friends or family members who were facing difficult times. 

Claire was preceded in death by her husband, Hugh J. Carney; granddaughter, Catherine Margaret Parkhurst; and siblings, Jeannette Greenwood, Lucille LeBlanc, and George O. Galipeau. She is survived by her four children, Dr. Doreen C. Parkhurst and her husband William White of Boynton Beach, Florida; Patrick Carney and his wife Lillian of South Dartmouth and Palm Beach, Florida; Mark Carney of North Dartmouth, and Hugh J. Carney, Jr. of North Dartmouth, as well as her goddaughter Rita Claire Nazareth and her husband Leonard of Rumford, Rhode Island. 

In addition, she was incredibly proud of her 11 grandchildren and their spouses and partners, Carolyn Rosser and Evan Rosser; Patrick Carney, Jr. and Amy Carney; Kathleen Carney; Colleen Courtney and Kristian Courtney; Hilary Hayes; Michael Carney and Mark McCauslin; Atty. Brenna Ferrick and Dr. Michael Ferrick; Edward Carney and Dr. Molly Carney; Doug Carney and Dr. Deborah Olson; Rad Carney; Dr. Dylan Carney and Alex McMullin, and her 15 great-grandchildren. Claire was “Grandmere” to so many others. She will be deeply missed, but there is comfort in knowing that the angels she admired so dearly have welcomed her home.

Her Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 6, at St. Mary’s Church, 795

Dartmouth Street, South Dartmouth. Relatives and friends are invited. Visiting hours will be from 4:00-6:00 PM on Friday, April 5, in the Dartmouth Funeral Home of Waring-Sullivan, 230 Russells Mills Road, South Dartmouth. Burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery, New Bedford. Memorial contributions may be made to the Claire T. Carney Library, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, Dartmouth, MA, 02747.

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