September 9, 1926 to December 23, 2017
In 1958, Claire packed her two-year old son, Jerry, and his four-year old sister, Sally, into an old Pontiac and drove away from Winnipeg and her family and friends. They were heading back to Comox, BC where Flying Officer Gerald Stephen Stubbs, Claire’s husband and Sally and Jerry’s dad, was last seen just over two years earlier. On March 22nd, 1956 he and his co-pilot took off from the Comox Air Base on a routine training flight which mysteriously disappeared. At the time, she was carrying Jerry. Sally was a toddler. Shortly after Jerry was born they were ordered out of Married Quarters and moved off the Base.
Driving off the ferry, Claire realized that living in the Comox area would be too painful and made the decision to head to Victoria. It was close enough that she would hear about and be able to respond quickly to any developments relating to the missing plane and pilots. For months, even years, she refused to admit that her beloved was dead. And she never stopped searching for the answers to her questions about his disappearance. How? What? Where? Why? She never remarried. She never wanted to remarry.
Claire began a relentless process of research including letter writing, phone calls and meetings with bureaucrats and politicians, and requisitioning official files under the Freedom of Information Act. The plane’s canopy was finally discovered decades later in the wild Callaghan Valley, hundreds of miles away from where the official search had taken place. Several years after that, the wreckage of the body of the plane was found in the same general area. There was no evidence discovered to reveal the whereabouts of the missing pilots. Still Claire held onto the belief that her love’s resting place would be found.
Claire struggled to raise and care for her children on a stenographer’s salary. In an era where there was no such thing as daycare and a woman was unable even to take out a mortgage without having a man co-sign for her, she worked like a fiend and cherished the support of her Mom and Dad who moved from Winnipeg to be near and help. She even managed to purchase her own home. Along the way she won the respect of her colleagues and employers and made some great friends. She also suffered losses including, in one tough year, the early deaths of her ‘soul-sister’, Elaine, and her beautiful and loving son, Jerry.
Claire was as feisty and independent as they come. Despite her failing health in the last decade of her life, she was victorious in her final battle. Adamant that she would remain in her home, she did just that until the day before the end of her life.
Claire was loving and empathetic. Her smile was electric. She loved to crank up her tunes and drive up the Island or dance alone in her living room, which she did well into her 80s. She had a quiet and wicked sense of humour, a soft heart, and unwavering faith in those she loved. And if – when - the mystery of Claire’s beloved’s disappearance is solved her daughter, Sally, will keep the promise she made to her Mom and lay her ashes at her Dad’s final resting place.
Claire loved and will be missed by many. These include her daughter, Sally; son-in-law, Rod; sister-in-law, Agatha; nieces Pat, Janet, Vicki and Gail; nephews, Jeff and Gerry; pals, Doreen, Pamela and Moira; family friends Mits, Christine, Sheilagh and Bruce and other contemporaries of Sally and Jerry, many of whom have known Claire since they were kids.