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Douglas Harper Claire

January 2, 1934 ~ April 4, 2019 (age 85)

A family tribute is being written, but in the interim, please refer to the "Services" tab for information on interment at Riverside National.

Any floral tributes in Doug's honor may be sent directly to his wife, Lita.

 

                                       DOUGLAS HARPER CLAIRE

                                          01-02-34 TO 04-04-19

 

When I speak his full name—Douglas Harper Claire—there is a sense of discipline and order that comes to my mind. 

When I think of my brother Doug I think of his birthdate : 01-02-34. Definitely a sense of order. 

Doug Claire was my older brother. My big brother. 

I couldn’t have had a better big brother. He showed how to approach life with his actions, not words. 

Doug was always independent and dependable. He wanted to earn his own money and his own way from the very start. 

He had a newspaper route in our hometown of Jamestown ,Ohio, passing out the Xenia Gazette. I followed. 

Doug figured he could also make money by trapping muskrats. Thus we formed a partnership with the tags on our traps reading: Claire Brothers, Box 93, Jamestown , Ohio.

We earned enough to buy the 1948 World Series film between the Boston Braves and Cleveland Indians. We played it until the threads of the film broke down. Doug was 14, a year and a half older than I. 

My career as a Major League Baseball   executive can be attributed to my brother. 

My brother’s interest in baseball led him to become 

a fan of the St Louis Cardinals and the great Stan Musial. 

Maybe it was because Stan The Man was left handed, like Doug. Maybe it was because Stan had the sweet swing, or because he showed up on our morning box of Wheaties. 


It doesn’t matter, Stan was his man and the Cardinals were his team. Again, I followed Doug in showing interest in a Major League team—my rooting interest going to the Boston Red Sox and the great Ted Williams. 

I had to try to match my big brother as I followed in his footsteps. I too wanted to root for a star player and a good team.

Our now mutual interest in baseball led to our parents, Marston and Mary Frances, taking us to Major League games at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, with our sister Lynn. 

When I first saw  Crosley Field with the green grass and the terrace running up to the left field wall like a small ocean wave I was hooked. 

Somehow, some way, I knew my life would be connected to baseball. Thanks to my brother Doug. 

In 1950 our lives changed. My father made the decision to head West, moving the family to California and pulling a mobile trailer home. Dad loved the sunshine and bright opportunities and his two older brothers had found success in California. He was a big city person in the small town of Jamestown.

At the end of what had to be a stressful day for my Dad in driving his car and pulling a trailer home, Doug and I would get out our baseball gloves and play catch. A tall left handed, Doug’s black first baseman’s glove seemed perfectly suited to his style. 

As for me, I had selected an infielder’s glove because I knew I wanted to be in the middle of the action. Not on the corners. My glove was a Marty Marion model named for the great Cardinal shortstop. In a way it was my connection to Doug’s Cardinals.

The move to California seemed to produce a distance in mutual interest for Doug and me. Doug was now a junior in high school with an interest in music and mechanics. I had no interest or ability in keeping a beat or fixing a car. 

My focus remained on sports, particularly baseball, and a new found interest in journalism as a member of the Torrance High School newspaper staff. I somehow sensed if I was going to stay connected to sports for a lifetime it would be through writing and not playing. 

In two short years, Doug was graduated from Torrance High and off to join the Air Force. I was staying at home through high school and then two years in junior college. 

The years flew by as they tend to do during these stages of live; Doug going to work in the insurance business after his days in the Air Force. Then came marriage and three sons—Tim, Mark and Curtis. 

There were the family Christmas gatherings and other holiday visits but our own childhood memories as brothers moved into the back of the mind. 

Those memories never left us. They were strong in unspoken terms. And through all of the years when I would call or greet Doug his words always were the same, “Hello Brother,” spoken with warmth and sincerity. 

We met just a week or so before his passing on April 4 to say goodbye. I could see that Doug was nearing the end of life but calm and in good hands with the love and support of his wife Lita and remaining sons Mark and Curtis. As my wife Sheryl and I departed after our visit I touched Doug on his shoulder and said “I love you.”

“You too, brother,” came Doug’s reply.

Brothers forever. 

Fred Claire

4-11-2019

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