Clara May Turner Ayres

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  Read excerpts from Clara May's book of poems and essays, Just Clara May

Clara May Turner AyresClara May Turner Ayres died peacefully in her sleep in Port Orchard, Washington on September 13, 2007 at the age of 100. She was born on June 28, 1907 in Manila, Philippine Islands. Her parents were among the first American schoolteachers who arrived in the Philippines after the Spanish-American war, and Clara May and her two brothers spent much of their childhood in the islands.

She graduated from the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and worked for many years as a nurse. Her husband's career as a professor of mathematics and his tours in the U.S. Naval Reserve took the family to various locations around the United States, including Annapolis, Maryland and Monterey, California.

Clara May is survived by daughters Betty Jesch of Port Orchard and Evelyn Starr of Monterey, California, in addition to five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Horace C. Ayres, in 1975 and her son, Horace C. Ayres, Jr., in 1981.

She will be remembered for her optimism, enthusiasm and lifelong interest in learning. After retiring from her nursing career, she opened an antique store on Whidbey Island in Washington state. Her other activities included learning to play various musical instruments and writing short stories and poems, including this poem from her limited-printing book "Just Clara May":

When I write or read some poetry
   My spirits rise so high
      and depression flies away.
I hope that heaven is full of poets
   That I can sit close to, and listen
      While all eternity flies by.

The following poem dedicated to Clara May was written by her granddaughter, Sue Bennett:

Clara May Ayres

Clara May, so special she was
To know her heart is to know love
In all our hearts is where she will stay
For us to say she was great she would say nay
Love like hers is rare indeed
Always to be found when in need
Her life lived so full and rich
We could all learn from her just a little bit
You see people like her cannot be replaced
She was full of love and grace
In life I know I would say
She is the one and only Clara May

I love you, Grandma
Your one and only filly,

The family would like to thank the staff of Ridgemont Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility and the Hospice of Kitsap County for the many months of comfort and support they provided to Clara May.

If you would like to write a tribute or share your thoughts about Clara May, or read tributes that others have written, please go to the Rill Chapel's Life Tribute Center web page and click on the Guest Book icon or View Tributes icon.

A memorial gathering of family and friends will be held in December. Please contact Betty Jesch or Evelyn Starr for details.

Clara May's daughters can be contacted at If you're contacting them, please include Clara May in the subject line, to make sure they'll see your message. (Note: If you don't see the email address above, you must enable Javascript to see it.)