October 31, 1937 – January 25, 2021
Claire Darling Derham, of many places, but most recently of New London, Connecticut, passed away peacefully at home on January 25, 2021. Born October 31, 1937, in Hicksville, NY, to Louis Charles Hartmaier and Ruth Darling Hartmaier, Claire grew up on a small farm but yearned to experience more in life than her rural upbringing. Graduating high school at the age of 16 , she headed to Hofstra University to study art, earning a bachelor’s in art history in 1958. Art was a passion Claire would keep her entire life, creating numerous masterpieces her family enjoys immensely and proudly. Hofstra was where she not only nourished her passion for art but also where she met and fell in love with her husband of 38 years, Thomas Kenneth Derham, who preceded her into the great unknown.
Claire had many adventures in life, from raising four wonderful children to traveling the world (mostly to beautiful, tropical beaches), to running her own business. And in her final working years, Claire chose a new adventure where she was surrounded by beautiful works of art every day at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, ultimately retiring in 2010.
There is no doubt that Claire’s life was full of many joys. Besides collecting, viewing, and making her own art, Claire was a voracious reader; she went through stacks of novels, escaping into the worlds the artists painted with their words. If she wasn’t reading, she could be found dipping her toes into sandy beaches whenever she could, enjoying the sound of waves crashing on the shore or enraptured by the flashy lights and satisfying ring of a slot machine declaring a victory.
Claire filled the lives of her family with love and laughter. She inspired them always to fight, her tenacious spirit carrying her through many difficult moments in her long life. While many will mourn her loss, Claire is survived by her children: Christine Derham, Kathleen Derham, Gregg Derham, and Glenn Derham and his wife, Ashley Griffith; her grandchildren: Kayleigh Hughes and her husband, Christopher, Patrick White and his partner, Mauricio Chernacov, and Colton Derham; and her great-grandchildren: Ciaran and Gwendolyn Hughes. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her brother Charles Louis Hartmaier.
Claire traveled far from her Long Island roots, calling many places home throughout her life, from cities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, California, and Connecticut. Her final resting place will be beside her husband at the Houston National Cemetery.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks you to consider a memorial donation in Claire’s name to The American Cancer Society.