Claire Clark (Taylor) was born in Hastings, Nebraska, on October 27, 1914. She spent most of her school years in Eugene, Oregon, where her father was pastor of a church closely linked to the university. Her mother served as chair of the music department. Claire began her first job there, playing the organ for church at the age of eleven. This was a skill that served her well, as she attended Grinnell College during the Depression and was able to fund her tuition with a church job. Following graduation she moved to Princeton to further her education at Westminster Choir College.
A friend from Princeton, who was a year ahead, recommended her for the organist position at St. Paul’s Church in Philadelphia where he was the choir master. She must have auditioned well, as she was hired. A year later the church bells at St. Paul’s rang for the marriage of Claire to her Westminster friend, Hubert Vance Taylor. Shortly thereafter someone in Atlanta heard about Claire and Bert. A committee from Central Presbyterian Church, across from the Capitol, made a visit to Philadelphia and convinced them to bring their musical talents south to Atlanta. Two children, Vance and Jan, soon joined the family. Bert earned a degree from Columbia Theological Seminary and joined the faculty at the seminary. Faculty housing was offered so the Taylor’s left Ansley Park for Decatur, where they lived until moving to St. Anne’s Terrace in their mid-90’s.
In addition to her musical career, Claire was an avid gardener and needle worker. The Taylor’s built their last house on a lot near the seminary carved from virgin forest, and Claire cultivated a wonderful woodland garden. If you wanted to find her, the best place to look was outside at 2588 McKinnon Drive.
If the weather drove her inside, she was probably working on her latest needlework project, which kept her busy many evenings.
In addition to a long career at Central Church, Claire served as church musician at St. James Methodist, Memorial Drive Presbyterian, Northwest Presbyterian, and Columbia Presbyterian.
There has been such life altering change throughout her lifetime, but one that she particularly treasures is that whereas the family once went to the ballpark on Ponce de Leon to root for the Atlanta Crackers, she can now follow the Braves daily during the season from the comfort of her apartment.
One of her son’s favorite stories occurred during a summer visit to Iowa to visit Claire’s Mom. Claire, a non golfer, would take her son to the golf course each morning. Curious, she asked her son to show her how to hit a golf ball. After a few minutes of instruction, she laced a 2 iron down the middle, declared the game easy and gave it up for life!