Update Jan. 3 at 2:30 pm
Claire Fournier Mercier died peacefully in the early morning hours on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, at her home in Edgartown. She was 86.
Born on May 21, 1931, in New Bedford, she was the daughter of Albert Fournier and Corinne Raymond. Her Aunts Lena and Louise and Uncle Ray also raised Claire and her older sister Louise, when their father became ill. Throughout her life she spoke fondly of the years spent as a child in New Bedford with them.
For years Claire and her family summered in Edgartown, where her mother worked as a hairdresser. It was on the Vineyard, at the age of 14, that Claire met the love of her life, Herbert R. Mercier Jr. They married six years later on June 16, 1951, in New Bedford on a rainy morning. And you know what they say about rainy weddings — the couple was married for 65 happy years before Herbert died in the spring of 2016.
Following their wedding, the couple moved to the Vineyard, bought land on Cooke Street in Edgartown, built a home, and filled it over the years with children. While Herbert worked to provide for the family, Claire was the homemaker, and over 14 years had nine children. While not tending to the house, she worked in the family’s Martha’s Vineyard memorabilia store on Edgartown’s Main Street, called Colonial Gifts. She also enjoyed ceramics and creating her youngest daughter Paulee’s numerous figure skating costumes. For those in the family looking for help with a tough stain or ripped clothing, Claire was the person you needed, and she never failed.
Once her children were grown, Claire’s love and attention turned to her grandchildren. In a family active in sports, she could be seen at various games in a signature spot that grandkids knew to always look at to catch her eye, a smile, and a thumbs-up. Claire was also a devoted member of the Catholic Church, and was honored with the Marian Medal for her service. Many have been recipients of her Christian generosity. She said her rosary every morning, and loved watching religious services on television.
Her loved ones will remember her for her selflessness, compassion, sense of humor, deep love for her family, stories of her past, and, of course, her feisty attitude and no-nonsense ways, which earned her the nickname “the General.”
Claire is survived by her sons and daughters Jeanne and her husband Barry, Herbert III (Randy) and his wife Katheryn (Kathy), Paul, Peter, Patricia, Patrick and his wife Christine, Philip and his wife Susan, Paulee and her husband Douglas; 29 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, and her sister, Louise Hathaway. She was predeceased by her husband Herbert and daughter Suzanne.
Visiting hours will be held at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs on Wednesday, Jan. 3 from 5 to 7 pm. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Edgartown on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 9 am, with a graveside service following at the West Side Cemetery in Edgartown. Immediately following the graveside service, the family invites everyone to a reception at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be mailed in Claire’s memory to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Updated to reflect a change in service times.