Ura Claire Oliver passed from this life April 10, 2014, in Norman, Okla., with her daughter, son-in-law, son and grandson by her side. Claire died of heart failure. She was 93. Claire was born Jan. 13, 1921, in Iola, where she attended Iola Junior College from 1939 to 1941. When our country was drawn into WWII, many women worked jobs as telephone operators. Few women worked as telephone operators from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and carried 18 credits hours at a major university. Accordingly, Claire Oliver earned her bachelor of arts degree in bacteriology from the University of Kansas in 1943.
During her junior year at KU, she gained permission from her professors to take three weeks off to marry her hometown sweetheart, Bill Oliver, also of Iola, who was a Navy pilot stationed in Oakland, Calif. They were married March 23, 1942, in Reno, Nev., and Mrs. Oliver stayed with her husband for another two weeks until he left for his tour in the South Pacific.
Claire received a telegram from LCDR Bill Oliver as she walked toward the stadium to receive her diploma in May 1943 saying he was back in the states. Bill and Claire then traveled to Putaxent River Maryland Naval Base where Bill was a test pilot and Claire worked in the dispensary.
In December 1945, Claire, Bill and their newborn daughter, moved to Miami, Okla., where Bill started a business and Claire stayed at home to raise their daughter and their son who was born in Miami. While her children were in grade school, Claire started playing golf and recruited the entire family to participate in the sport. Unfortunately for her family, Claire somehow always ended up with the lowest score.
When her children were older, Claire started her teaching journey with trips to Pittsburg Kansas State College where she received her teaching certificate. Shortly after beginning her teaching career, Claire received prestigious summer study grants from the National Science Foundation at San Jose State University and Southern Methodist University. Back in Miami, Claire once again found the energy to work while studying, this time her studying matched her work. Claire would rise early in the morning to study before heading off to school to teach. She completed her master’s degree in biology in 1963.
Mrs. Oliver gave back to her profession by being president of the Miami Association of Classroom Teachers. Her former students can be found today teaching in the high school classroom with another student being a Ph.D. professor doing research for Alzheimer’s disease. When Claire saw one of her former students, they often said to her, “You were the best teacher I had.”
After her retirement, Claire and Bill continued to play golf and travel. Claire was an active member of the Ottawa County Retired Educators Association and continued to play a role in her church and her P.E.O. Chapter.
Claire is survived by her daughter, Diana Carter and husband John Carter, Norman, Okla.; her granddaughter, Deborah Fung and husband Archon, Boston, Mass.; her grandson, Steven Smith, Dallas, Texas; her son, Bill Oliver and his wife Genet D’Arcy, Boulder, Colo.; her granddaughter, Jennifer Liming and husband Duane, Asheville, N.C.; her grandson, Billy Oliver, Salt Lake City, Utah; her great-grandchildren, Alexander Fung, Zachary Fung, Boston, Mass., and Morgan Smith, Madison Smith, and Mason Smith, Dallas, Texas.
Claire’s funeral was in Miami, Okla., on Monday at the First Christian Church with graveside services at the GAR cemetery in Miami. Memorials may be sent to the Martin Class, c/o First Christian Church, 2424 N. Main St., Miami, OK 74354.
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