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Clara Barton DeOrsay, R.N., 108, died on Friday, February 24th at North Hill Retirement Community in Needham, MA.
She was one of three children of Andrew and Helen Barton, of Philadelphia, PA, and completed her RN at Philadelphia General Hospital. She went on to earn a Bachelor's in Nursing Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She was married to Ralph H. DeOrsay, MD, in 1935, and they made their lives in suburban Philadelphia except during WWII, when Ralph went to sea with the Navy and Clara and her two children lived in Washington and California. After the war, the family returned to Philadelphia, and later purchased a lake cottage in Camden, ME, where the family still spends summers. Ralph passed away in 1985.
Clara is survived by her two sons, Ralph (Bonnie) and Paul (Ellen) and her son-in-law Stephen Freidberg (Liz). Her daughter, Helen Grace DeOrsay Freidberg died in 2005. She has seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, three God-daughters and many nieces and nephews of several generations. As "Aunt Clara," she was beloved by many, including her 'honorary daughter,' Martha Liao (Hao Jiang Tian.)
While raising her children, Clara worked in support of her husband's medical practice, at the same time volunteering with the Auxiliary of Delaware County Memorial Hospital, as a board member of Meals on Wheels, and in other charitable and social service projects. After her children were grown, she returned to nursing as a faculty member at Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing, in Philadelphia. She was a lifelong member of PEO, a philanthropic organization supporting education and advancement for women. Clara was a woman of abiding faith, and she was an active member of Presbyterian and Congregational churches throughout her life. Clara moved from Philadelphia to North Hill in 1989, to be closer to her children, and still spent her summers in Maine until the frailties of age precluded traveling. At North Hill she was an ardent and accomplished bridge player, a volunteer librarian, and a concerned and caring friend and neighbor to those in need. While she was able, she traveled widely for recreation and to visit family, especially when new babies arrived or old-fashioned nursing care was called for. Clara's loving heart, consideration and kindness were her most prominent attributes; these, combined with her lack of pretension and down-to-earth approach to life, made her a valued friend to a vast number of people in her century-plus of life on this earth. As the infirmities of age imposed themselves on her, she accepted them without bitterness or complaint, remarking only that she was thankful for those capabilities she had left. She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her, but we take consolation in knowing that she has gone to her rest, and we are blessed to have had her with us for so many years.
A memorial service will be held 3:00 PM on Friday, March 10, 2017, at the North Community Church, 72 Old Main St., Marshfield Hills, MA 02051.