Judith Joanne O’Claire


Judith (Judy) Joanne O’Claire, 80, of Brigham City, Utah (formerly of Chisago City, Minnesota) passed away after a gallant battle with Alzheimer’s on Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Judy was born on February 20, 1941, the 3rd child of six born to Irene (Gehrke) Patterson and Howard (“Pat”) Patterson. Judy was raised in Bemidji, Minnesota attending Lincoln Elementary, Bemidji High School, and Bemidji State College where she acquired a degree in elementary education. In 1962, she met and married Larrel (“Duffy”) O’Claire while they both attended college. They later moved their family to Maplewood, Minnesota and were members of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Their relationship produced 3 beautiful children and a lifetime of memories, as, even though they divorced, they remained friends through the years. Her passion was teaching. She earned a masters degree in education from the University of Minnesota during her 30 year career teaching k-3 students, most of those years spent at Carver Elementary. Valued as an innovative, resourceful educator, she made many lasting friendships with coworkers and students, many of whom stayed in touch over the years. She was a member of MEA, NEA, and DFL. Judy met Charles (“Chuck”) Zacharias, and together they moved to Chisago City, Minnesota. They enjoyed shopping, visiting family, and beautiful days at the cabin. Their relationship spanned nearly 30 years until he passed away in July, 2021. Judy’s children moved her to the Lighthouse in the Mission at Maple Springs of Brigham City, Utah as her Alzheimer’s escalated, to be near her two daughters and their families. She lived there for 5 months until her passing. Judy had many talents and interests. She enjoyed cooking, gardening, and hosting guests, and she was an impeccable housekeeper. She was artistic in many ways, with a flair for color and design. She was a talented singer and bassist, performing in the band “Little Duffy and the Bad Guys” with her husband Duffy, during the early years of their marriage. She loved baseball and enjoyed many family outings to the Minnesota Twins games. Her sense of humor came out in many things she did. Her enthusiasm made everything more fun. She had many friends, some since childhood. She loved get-togethers, and enjoyed her homemakers group of ladies in the Chisago City area. She loved traveling, loved beautiful sunny days, and life itself. She was known for her generosity - whether it was reaching out to a student or to a complete stranger. She never passed a person in need without offering help. She was kind, a true giver, sometimes obstinate, but in the end, you knew she loved you. Judy was preceded in death by her parents, three terrific brothers: Patrick, Douglas, and Roger Patterson, “nephew extraordinaire” Brian Patterson, her loving companion and caregiver Chuck Zacharias, and her sweet dog, Carlos. Judy leaves behind three children, Michael (Peggy) O’Claire of Deer River, MN, Cathryn (Jeffrey Bradshaw) Gonzales of Brigham City, UT, Kelly (Leonard) Esparza of Mantua, UT, 7 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, her “seester” Shari Schnell of Arizona, loving brother Randolph Patterson of Red Wing, Minnesota, and her dearly loved nieces and nephews. The Zacharias girls, Julie, Keile, Vicki, and Sherri loved and cared for Judy. Their kindness and generosity will not be forgotten. The family affectionately thanks the close friends in Judy’s life who selflessly gave her their time, attention, and love over the years, and especially as her illness progressed. The family would also like extend their thanks to the Lighthouse staff for their loving care and attentiveness to Judy’s every need while she resided there, and to Aegis Home Health & Hospice for their professionalism, companionship, and for keeping Judy comfortable in her last days.

Judy will be honored at Gillies Funeral Home in Brigham City, Utah on January 2, 2022 beginning with a rosary at 1:00, and a viewing and service to follow. A celebration of her life and burial of her ashes will be held in Bemidji, Minnesota in the summer of 2022, with details to be later announced.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to school district 622 at and specify for students in need at Carver Elementary, or donate to a charity of your choice.

Bless your heart, Mama, bless your dear little heart. We are hugging you in our hearts.

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