Rita N. Claflin
December 14, 1934 – June 27, 2021
Marblehead – Rita Noel (Keevers) Claflin, 86, passed away unexpectedly on June 27, 2021 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
She was born in Brooklyn, NY, on December 14, 1934, to Florence (Birmingham) Keevers and William Keevers.
She moved to Hamden, Conn., at age nine with her parents and two sisters, Marybeth (Keevers) Kelleher and Carol (Kelleher) Corcoran. The family often hosted their Brooklyn relatives for clambakes at their summer cottage near Pawson Park in Branford, Conn., on the shores of Long Island Sound.
She graduated from St. Mary’s High School in New Haven, Conn., in 1952 and received her associate degree from Lasell Junior College in Newton in 1954.
She eventually moved from Lasell to Boston with friends, where she met her first husband, Larry Claflin, while working in public relations.
The couple first moved to Swampscott and then settled in Marblehead, where she raised her three children, Kara, Holly and Larry Jr.
She worked at the Colonial Hilton Hotel in Lynnfield as a public relations director for over 10 years, and it was there that she and Larry Sr. helped establish the Jimmy Fund Golf Tournament, for which the two recruited professional athletes to compete and raise money for childhood cancer research.
From there, she opened her own children’s clothing store in Marblehead, The Children’s Hour.
She eventually took a job on the support staff of Allergy Affiliates in North Andover and Salem, where she reconnected with Billy Clarke of Swampscott, who would become her second husband. In 2005, she retired from Allergy Affiliates after nearly 20 years.
“Reetsie,” as her grandchildren knew her, cherished every second she shared with her family, including great-grandchildren. Rita had countless friends, many from Marblehead, her home for over 50 years.
She was a passionate gardener and an accomplished bridge player. She was a world traveler and visited Ireland three times because it was one of her favorite places.
Survivors include her sister, Carol (Keevers) Corcoran; children, Kara (Claflin) McGrath and husband, Joe McGrath; Holly (Claflin) Sullivan and partner, Joe Lucero; and Larry Claflin Jr., and wife Heather Cushman; grandchildren, Hannah Matsubara, Bonnie (Matsubara) Oliveira and her husband Daniel Oliveira; Thomas, Patrick and Noel Sullivan; and three great-grandchildren, Verne, Abigail and Natalie Oliveira. She was predeceased by her parents, Florence (Birmingham) Keevers and William Keevers; sister, Marybeth (Keevers) Kelleher; first husband, Larry Claflin; and second husband, William “Billy” Clarke.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Colontown, an organization she believed in that provides support to colorectal cancer survivors, patients and caregivers, at www.colontown.org/support. Services will be held on Saturday, July 10, 2021 from 12:00 noon at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, located at 85 Atlantic Ave Marblehead. For more information or an online guestbook, visit www.MurphyFuneralHome.com or call 978-744-0497.
Published on July 2, 2021