Claire Evelyn Blevins, a child of God and forever loved, died unexpectedly and tragically on August 6, 2022. She suffered a fatal brain injury after a fall in her rented apartment in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Claire was the youngest of 3 children born in quick succession and was welcomed into the world by her parents, Doug and Susan. She was attached to her mother’s hip from an early age, always trying to keep up with Valerie and Drew, her 2 older siblings. She spent the first 2 years of her life barefoot, refusing to wear shoes in almost any environment. Her early childhood was spent outdoors and in playgrounds, by fishing ponds, at the river, or at the neighborhood pool with her family.
Claire was blessed with loving and loving paternal grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Blevins, who lived “just across the mountain” in Pulaski, Virginia. She spent a day most weekends and nearly every holiday with her siblings and parents at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Claire “helped” Grandmother with the cooking and “helped” Grandfather in his workshop. Later, she would remember her favorite recipes from grandma and save very expensive items made with grandpa.
Claire created many childhood memories playing Pulaski with cousins, as they squealed with laughter as they were pulled in a wagon behind Grandpa’s tractor, on Easter egg hunts for children. candy treasures, or while celebrating most Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays, sitting around the dinner table. Claire learned to ride a bike on Grandma and Grandpa’s long cobbled driveway.
Her first of many recurring knee injuries (dislocated patella/kneecap) occurred while she was riding her bike down that driveway on a beautiful Thanksgiving day in the fall. The injury culminated in his first trip to the ER, his first knee brace and his first set of crutches. The laxity of both knee joints then led to repeated dislocations, hours of physiotherapy and five knee surgeries, each of which had a huge impact on his life. Just before her trip to Amsterdam, Claire had met the orthopedic surgeon whose advice remained to postpone a knee joint replacement for as long as chronic knee pain and reduced physical activity levels could be tolerated.
Claire loved the water and loved swimming at the neighborhood pool. She insisted on being in the “big pool” with her siblings, still believing she was as big as them. She spent her summers at the Forest Hill Swim Club and competed on her swim team at the Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association’s Monday night swim meets. The summer swimming season concluded with the annual RVAA City/County Championship. Wanting to devote more time to swimming, Claire joined the Carter Athletic Center Marlins and competed in USA Swimming competitions. Claire was never in the same league as the top swimmers on the circuit, but she relished the practices and thrived on the structure, discipline and camaraderie that the Marlins swim team coaches encouraged. . Claire’s return to competitive swimming after her first knee surgery was difficult, but she was happy. Her inability to fully rehabilitate her knee after surgery on her opposite knee proved too much for her to return to swimming competitively with her training group. It was a huge loss for Claire during those early teenage years.
Claire grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. She was baptized and raised in the Christian faith at Christ Lutheran Church in Roanoke and attended Penn Forest, Cave Spring Junior and Cave Spring High School. She delayed entering college until she was 20. Then, she returned to her studies with a passion and dynamism so characteristic of the Claire of yesteryear. She graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude, 2010) and spent a year as a research assistant at Duke. Claire entered the MA/PhD program in Psychology at Virginia Tech in 2011, where she earned her MSc in Psychology (2013) and her Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology in 2016. She successfully wrote and defended her thesis in 2015, the culmination of 4 years of post-baccalaureate goal setting, motivation and faculty mentoring. She successfully completed her doctoral internship in clinical psychology at Brown University’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (June 2016) and started the following month as a member of Brown’s faculty as a research psychologist. . Claire also had privileges at Butler Hospital (Providence, Rhode Island). After leaving Brown and Butler Hospital, her career entered a new phase. She started a solo private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist. At the time of her death on August 6, Claire was beginning to chart the next steps in her career.
Claire liked to live on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island, near Hope Street. She loved her home and its proximity to a small retail community of restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other businesses, most locally owned and operated. It’s a friendly little neighborhood within Providence, fulfilling Claire’s expectations for a place to put down roots. She had a very dear neighbor who integrated Claire into her family. Claire had close friendships in Providence and other dear friends in the United States and abroad. Plus, Claire had Kayla, her loving and faithful puppy love who had been a constant in her life for 12 years.
Claire had a sharp intellect with the ability to quickly read large volumes of information and synthesize content quickly. She capitalized on this talent during her years of study and professional life. Claire was devoted to her profession. She had dozens of interesting research topics and enough research hypotheses to test for two lifetimes. Claire has been trained in multiple treatment modalities and has used them the most in her clinical psychology practice. In her early years, she loved science and enjoyed reading all types of books, including Garfield comics. She’s always had an infectious laugh, and we have fond memories of her childhood laugh as we read about Garfield’s latest antics. Claire sometimes masked her pain with a rebellious demeanor, and she could be quite opinionated and outspoken. Claire understood the shortcomings and weaknesses of individuals and was decidedly more forgiving of others than herself.
Claire loved to travel and her trip to Amsterdam was the first of many she had planned for the future. She enjoyed all types of cuisine, was a good cook, and enjoyed sharing meals with friends. Claire considered her tattoos to be body art, confidently wearing exquisite replicas of some of Alphonse Mucha’s most famous Art Nouveau designs.
The September 2017 death of her beloved sister, Valerie, precipitated deep grief and sparked a period of intense exploration of the meaning of life, death and suffering. The first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficult for everyone, including Claire. Her life journey and quest for self-discovery sometimes took a circuitous route, and she often retraced her steps. Still, Claire’s resilience held firm, and she had planned and looked forward to traveling to Amsterdam for a month, reuniting with old friends and taking time to reflect on her next phase of life.
Claire is survived by her loving parents, Doug and Susan McCready Blevins of Durham, North Carolina; his brother, Drew Blevins, and his wife Cara; and his grandmother, Ella Rose Blevins of Pulaski, Virginia. Claire is also survived by Jack and Carolyn Blevins, Alaina Blevins and Christina Blevins and her husband, Zack Book; Joseph Augustin Facenda II; Love Elizabeth Facenda McCoury with her sons, Benjamin and Jacob; Joseph Augustine Facenda III and his wife Diana with their daughters Jennifer and Jessica; Margaret Ann Facenda McNeill with her daughters Meghan and Anna; Theresa Facenda Lynch and her husband, Christian, with children Jackson, Duncan, Elizabeth and Harper; aunt Franceta Loftin; Robert Loftin and his wife, Virginia Ann, with their sons William and John; and Aunt Helen McCready. Claire is predeceased by her sister, Valerie Cathleen Blevins; grandfather Richard Blevins; maternal grandparents Robert and Hazel McCready; uncle Alan Olson; cousins Julia Facenda, Jennifer Facenda, John Paul Facenda and Jamie Loftin.
Claire’s life will be celebrated in our hearts and in our memories. His ashes will be interred in October 2022 at Oakwood Cemetery in Pulaski, Virginia with a private burial service. Arrangements are being made through Norris Funeral Services, Pulaski Chapel, located at 815 Randolph Avenue, Pulaski, Virginia 24301; telephone number (540) 980-2600. Written words of comfort and condolences may be sent to the family through Norris Funeral Services, Pulaski Chapel at PO Box 32, Pulaski, Virginia 24301. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a local charity that serves the homeless community in your Region.