Obituary of Claire Ellen Charlebois
Claire Ellen Lanning was born at home in Oxford, Kansas to Irvyn ‘Jack” and Daisy (Siemer) Lanning at 10:30 in the evening of October 8, 1934. She weighed in at about 8 pounds. Claire spent her formative years in Oxford before moving with her mom, dad, and older brother Barney to the city of Wichita, Kansas in the fall of 1943. She was 9. Claire loved going to school in Wichita. She attended Washington Elementary and Central Intermediary before graduating high school in 1952. It was at school she met her best friend Carolee Jenisch (Houston) when they were 13 years of age, and they remained best friends until Claire passed away at age 88.
Claire and her first husband Harry Spencer were married in Kansas in 1954. However, the young couple soon made their way to the Northwest where they first settled in the Eastgate area of Bellevue, Washington. A year later they made their home in Kirkland. Harry and Claire had three children together before divorcing in 1974.
Claire worked for See’s Candies for twenty years, primarily at their store located in downtown Bellevue. She loved Sees chocolate and has gotten several family members hooked on it as well.
Ronald “Charlie” Charlebois came into Claire’s life on November 9, 1991. They fell in love and were married the following August 1. Charlie and Claire were very happy together. Charlie had three daughters who accepted Claire as family, and she soon grew to love them as daughters.
In December 1994 Claire and Charlie left Washington, moving back to Kansas. They chose the small town of Viola where she and Charlie were active volunteers in many community projects. They loved children so Claire became the Viola Township librarian which had story time for kids. She and Charlie ran a preschool literacy program, and because Charlie loved hunting, they also became involved in a Young Hunter Safety program which Claire managed for several years.
While in Viola, Claire met two younger women, Mellissa Doffing and Jeana Bender, who became as Claire put it “ her illegally adopted daughters”. After Charlie passed away on April 18, 2012, Mellissa and Jeana became all the more important to Claire, even helping her through several serious health crises. Her family in Washington will be eternally grateful to Mellissa and Jeana for the devotion shown to their mom.
By now Claire had come to the conclusion that she needed to be closer to family as she aged. So, in 2018 she once As you know, Claire talked to anyone and everyone when out in the community. One of the new friends she met was C.J. They went on many adventures around the Kirkland area. C.J. was the one who introduced her to St. Andrews Church which Claire found to be so accepting and kind that she decided to become a member. She so enjoyed both the church services and activities at St. Andrews.
Claire had family scattered throughout the West and Midwest and too many friends to name them here. But she wanted all of them to know that she loved each and every one of them. However, Claire did have a group of people who were a part of her support system. Besides those already mentioned were Dr. Mike at first her chiropractor in Wichita and then dear friend, who thought of Claire as being like a mother to him. Rita, Dino and Dave in Kansas who she stayed in touch with by phone. Dave and Claire were prayer partners and rarely missed a week without holding others up to God. If you knew Claire, your name was undoubtedly on her prayer list at some point. Claire’s cousin Anita Siemer owns a bookstore in the Wichita area and kept Claire well supplied with reading material. About five years ago Claire reconnected with her cousin Nancy Moreno who lives in Oregon. Through this relationship she was also able to either connect or reconnect with other family members on the Lanning side of her family. She visited Nancy in Oregon in 2018 and took part in a Lanning family reunion on the Oregon coast in 2019 where she met new family members and reconnected with several that she had not seen since she was a child. In 2021, Nancy took Claire on a road trip to visit Nancy’s sister Dee Lanning and her family in Spokane. She also put Claire in touch with their oldest cousin Dixie Weese who now lives in Texas. They so enjoyed sharing memories and catching up.
Claire’s youngest son Jay Spencer preceded her in death. She is survived by her son Jeffrey “Stuart” Spencer, daughter Jane Susan Spencer, two nephews Bruce and Barney “Jack ”Lanning; stepdaughters Cindy Druschba (John), Sue Holm, and Carol Stiles (Mark); seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The family invites you to join us in celebrating the life of this one-of-a-kind gal. Celebration of Life, 1:00PM, Sunday, July, 9 2023 at Saint Andrew's Lutheran Church, 2650 148th Avenue SE, Bellevue, WA 98007.
A livestream of the service can be viewed at the following link: https://salc.church/charlebois