Claire Sawyer, a civil servant and civic activist, passed away Tuesday after two weeks of being hospitalized in New Orleans’ Oschner Hospital for treatment of an aneurysm.
Sawyer was a lifelong resident of Patterson, the daughter of Bertha and Pete Delaune, and was married for 40 years to Charles R. Sawyer.
She graduated from Patterson High School in 1965 and attended Nicholls State University.
Sawyer was a lifelong member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Patterson where she served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Eucharist, Church Parish Council member and was administrator of the St. Vincent dePaul fund.
She retired in April 2000 from Patterson State Bank as senior vice president and secretary to the board of directors after 35 years.
“Claire started with PSB as soon as she graduated from Patterson High in 1965, and early on she made it known to my dad that she wanted to be a career banker. She learned every phase of banking, including bookkeeping, teller work and ended up being a loan officer, supervisor of the lending department and was promoted all the way to vice president of the bank,” said Bill Marin, chairman of PSB’s board.
“I worked with her since 1974 when I came into the bank, and she was very dedicated, very knowledgeable and an outstanding citizen of Patterson. She ended up being on the city council where she was serving at the time of her death.
“She did an outstanding job for us and the City of Patterson. She is going to be sorely missed by all her friends and acquaintances.”
She was serving as councilwoman for the City of Patterson, served as secretary for the Patterson Garden Club, and was a member of the Council on Aging.
She was remembered fondly by numerous members of the various organizations she belonged to.
Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan said “For me, I was blessed with the privilege of pledging a fraternity of being elected with her our first term and serving together. She was not only a friend, she was a friend and a surrogate mother to me. To have the opportunity for her to serve under my administration was truly a blessing to me because she was truly devoted to her cause.
“It’s a great loss for me. Knowing what type of person Claire was really has set me back, because it’s more of a motherly type. Being a motherless child, it’s kind of hard,” he said.
“Ms. Claire was not a selfish person. She was all about people and about helping. She loved holding conversations with people from all walks of life. At her age, she was very open-minded. She will be greatly missed within the community, her church and to the right of me in the council room,” Grogan said.
The Patterson Garden Club was a huge part of Sawyer’s life.
“She was a wonderful person, kind, caring, giving, a hard worker, and a great friend,” said PGC Past President Linda Thomas.
The garden club “was a very huge part of her life. She volunteered for a lot of things and she always did a great job with the things she headed. She served in many positions in both the local and district garden clubs.
“She and I graduated together, and we’ve known each other since childhood,” she added.
Former Patterson Mayor Mike Accardo knew Sawyer all her life as well.
“I grew up two houses from Claire. She’s always been real active in the community … she was always involved in the garden club … She ran for city council on my first term as mayor and was always involved and active in the city, recreation, everything,” he said.
“I can’t say enough about her,” Accardo added.