Blevins, Claire Evelyn

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Claire Evelyn Blevins, child of God and forever loved, died unexpectedly and tragically on August 6, 2022. She suffered a fatal brain injury after a fall within her rented apartment in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Claire was the youngest of 3 children born in quick succession and was welcomed into the world by parents, Doug and Susan. She was attached to her mother’s hip at an early age, forever trying to keep up with Valerie and Drew, her 2 older siblings. She spent the first 2 years of her life barefoot, refusing to wear shoes in nearly all environments. Her early childhood was spent outdoors and at playgrounds, near fishing ponds, at the river, or at the neighborhood pool with her family.

Claire was fortunate to have loving, affectionate paternal grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Blevins, who lived “just over the mountain” in Pulaski, Virginia. She spent one day most weekends and nearly every holiday with her siblings and parents at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Claire “helped” Grandma cook and “helped” Grandpa in his workshop. She later would recall her favorite Grandma recipes and held onto some dearly-cherished items made with Grandpa.

Claire created many childhood memories while playing in Pulaski with cousins, as they squealed with laughter while being pulled in a cart behind Grandpa’s tractor, during Easter egg hunts for treasures of candy, or while celebrating most Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter holidays, seated around the dinner table. Claire learned to ride a bike on Grandma and Grandpa’s long, paved driveway.

Her first of many recurrent knee injuries (dislocation of the patella/ kneecap), occurred while riding bikes on that driveway on a beautiful autumn Thanksgiving Day. The injury culminated in her first trip to the emergency room, her first knee brace, and her first set of crutches. The laxity in both knee joints later led to repeated dislocations, hours of physical therapy, and five knee surgeries, each of which had a tremendous impact on her life. Just prior to her trip to Amsterdam, Claire had met with the orthopedic surgeon whose advice remained to postpone a knee joint replacement for as long as chronic knee pain and reduction in physical activity levels could be tolerated.

Claire absolutely loved the water and loved to swim at the neighborhood pool. She insisted on being in the “big pool” with her siblings, always believing that she was as big as they were. She spent her summers at Forest Hill Swim Club and competed on its swim team in Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association Monday-night swim meets. The summer swim season concluded with the annual RVAA City /County Championship. Wanting to devote more time to swimming, Claire joined the Carter Athletic Center Marlins and competed in the USA Swimming meets. Claire was never in the same league as the top swimmers on the circuit, but she relished the practices and thrived in the structure, discipline, and camaraderie that the Marlins swim team coaches promoted. Claire’s return to competitive swimming after her first knee surgery was difficult, but she was happy. Her inability to fully rehab her knee after surgery on her opposite knee proved to be too much for her to return to swimming competitively with her training group. This was a tremendous loss for Claire during those early adolescent years.

Claire grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. She was baptized and reared in the Christian faith at Christ Lutheran Church in Roanoke and attended Penn Forest, Cave Spring Junior, and Cave Spring High School. She delayed her college entry until she was 20 years old. Then, she returned to her academics with a passion and drive so characteristic of the Claire of yore. She graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude, 2010) and spent a year as a research assistant at Duke. Claire entered the Master/PhD psychology program at Virginia Tech in 2011, where she earned her Master of Science degree in psychology (2013) and her Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology in 2016. She successfully wrote and defended her dissertation in 2015, the culmination of 4 years of post-baccalaureate goal setting, motivation, and professorial mentoring. She successfully completed her Doctoral Internship in Clinical Psychology in Brown University’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (June 2016) and started the following month as a Brown faculty member as a research psychologist. Claire also had privileges at Butler Hospital (Providence, Rhode Island). After leaving Brown and Butler Hospital, her career had entered a new phase. She started a solo private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist. At the time of her death on August 6th, Claire was beginning to chart her next career steps.

Claire loved living on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island near Hope Street. She loved her home and its proximity to a small retail community of restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and other businesses, most locally owned and operated. It is a small friendly neighborhood within Providence, fitting Claire’s expectations for a place to set roots. She had a very dear next-door neighbor who enveloped Claire into her family. Claire had close friendships in Providence and other dear friends in the U.S. and abroad. Plus, Claire had Kayla, her loving and faithful bundle of puppy love that had been a constant in her life for 12 years.

Claire had a sharp intellect with the ability to read large volumes of information rapidly and to synthesize the content quickly. She capitalized on this talent during her years of education and professional life. Claire was committed to her profession. She had scores of research topics of interest and enough research hypotheses to test for two lifetimes. Claire was trained in multiple treatment modalities and utilized most in her clinical psychology practice. In her early years, she loved science and loved to read all types of books, including Garfield comic books. She always had an infectious laugh, and we have fond memories of her chuckling as a child while reading Garfield’s latest antics. Claire would sometimes mask her pain with rebellious behavior, and she could be quite opinionated and outspoken. Claire understood the foibles and weaknesses of individuals, and was decidedly more forgiving of others than herself.

Claire loved to travel and her trip to Amsterdam was the first of many she had planned for the future. She loved all types of cuisine, was a good cook, and enjoyed sharing meals with friends. Claire considered her tattoos as body art, confidently wearing exquisite replicas of some of Alphonse Mucha’s most famous Art Nouveau-style designs.

The September 2017 death of beloved sister, Valerie, precipitated a profound grief and triggered a period of intense exploration about the meaning of life, death, and suffering. The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic were tough on everyone, including Claire. Her life journey and her quest for self-discovery sometimes took a circuitous path, and she frequently retraced her steps. Yet, Claire’s resilience held fast, and she had planned and was looking forward to traveling to Amsterdam for a month, meeting up with old friends, and taking time to reflect upon her next phase of life.

Claire is survived by her loving parents, Doug and Susan McCready Blevins of Durham, North Carolina; her brother, Drew Blevins, and wife Cara; and her grandmother, Ella Rose Blevins of Pulaski, Virginia. Claire is also survived by Jack and Carolyn Blevins, Alaina Blevins, and Christina Blevins and husband, Zack Book; Joseph Augustine Facenda II; Love Elizabeth Facenda McCoury with sons, Benjamin and Jacob; Joseph Augustine Facenda III and wife, Diana with daughters Jennifer and Jessica; Margaret Ann Facenda McNeill with daughters Meghan and Anna; Theresa Facenda Lynch and husband, Christian with children Jackson, Duncan, Elizabeth, and Harper; Aunt Franceta Loftin; Robert Loftin and wife, Virginia Ann with sons William and John; and Aunt Helen McCready. Claire is preceded in death by her sister, Valerie Cathleen Blevins; Grandpa Richard Blevins; maternal grandparents Robert and Hazel McCready; Uncle Alan Olson; cousins Julia Facenda, Jennifer Facenda, John Paul Facenda and Jamie Loftin.

Claire’s life will be celebrated in our hearts and in our memories. Her ashes will be buried in October 2022 in Oakwood Cemetery in Pulaski, Virginia, with a private graveside service. Arrangements are being made by Norris Funeral Services, Pulaski Chapel, located at 815 Randolph Avenue, Pulaski, Virginia 24301; phone number (540) 980-2600. Written words of comfort and condolences can be sent to the family via Norris Funeral Services, Pulaski Chapel at P.O. Box 32, Pulaski, Virginia 24301. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a local charity that serves the homeless community in your area.