Mary Clare Paris, 65, known to all as Clare, passed away at her home in Okanogan, Washington on August 18th, 2019, surrounded by her loving family. During her three-year struggle with cancer she had never lost the positive nature and upbeat attitude that she was so known for.
Clare was born in North Seattle in 1954 to Marshall and Nancy Paris. The eldest of five children, Clare attended Bothell schools until the family moved to Clinton on Whidbey Island in 1970. Graduating from Langley High School in 1972, she then attended WSU for two years before returning to work for her father’s insurance company in Bothell. She then moved back to Whidbey Island, where she became the first woman welder at Nichols Brothers Boatyard, an accomplishment almost unheard-of in the 1970s.
In the early 1980s she met Tom Mulgrew and moved with him to the Okanogan Valley, where they were married in 1982. Always having had an interest in journalism, Clare worked for the Gazette-Tribune while she and Tom lived in Tonasket. Known professionally as M. Clare Paris, she received an award from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for a story she wrote. She later worked for the Omak-Okanogan Chronicle when they moved to Okanogan. Clare was a homesteader and an activist, and helped create and run a newsletter called Twisted Knickers. She had three daughters with Tom. In the mid-90s they were divorced and stayed good friends forever. Clare was always grateful for Tom’s loving and attentive co-parenting.
Clare met Sam Howell and they were married in 1997 and Clare gained two more daughters in the bargain. Clare brought her homesteading skills in food preservation, keeping small livestock, and cheesemaking and added these to Sam’s love of vegetable gardening. After a few years, Clare became a professional cheesemaker with her own farmstead cheese business. With Sam as the milker and livestock manager during the milking season, Clare handled the spring birthing, making and aging the cheese, and marketing. Clare and her fabulous products were beloved at several farmers’ markets and at several retail shops.
Clare had a deep faith that could not be expressed in any creed or doctrine. She knew that nothing could ever separate her from the Love that created her. Her goal in life, even throughout the trials of her last few months, seems to have been to help others feel good about themselves. About 15 years ago, Clare rekindled her 1980s relationship with Trinity Episcopal Church in Oroville and enjoyed the warmth of those friendships until her passing.
Clare is survived by her husband, Sam Howell of Okanogan; her three daughters, Aly (Brandon) Lovejoy of Omak, Nancy (Patric) Koop of Chelan and Carrie Beth Parigrew of Chelan and two stepdaughters, Veronica Oh Happy of Tacoma and May Keli Vidrine of Seattle; several grandchildren, one sister and three brothers, nieces and nephews all over the world and her mother, Nancy Paris of Whidbey Island. She was preceded in death by her father, Marshall.
A celebration of her life will be held at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center on Saturday, September 14th at 2 p.m. Anyone whose life has been touched by her light is welcome to attend.