Celebrating the Life of Claire L. Phillips… “Our School’s Namesake Claire Bourne”
Clairbourn School celebrates the life of Claire Bourne (known in later years as Claire L. “Deede” Phillips), the namesake of the school, who passed away peacefully in Montana at the age of 97 in January of 2019.
Clairbourn School was started in 1926 by her parents Mr. and Mrs. Arthur K. Bourne, a prominent San Marino, California, couple. A. K. Bourne (1877–1967) was the second son of Frederick Gilbert Bourne who is widely credited with the success of the Singer sewing machine company. In 1919 when his father died, A.K. Bourne inherited a large portion of the company fortune.
A.K. Bourne loved the San Marino, California area and settled there in 1923. In 1926, Mrs. Emily Bourne desired to provide a school environment for her daughter Claire that recognized and appreciated their religious beliefs, and it was in her San Marino home, that Mrs. Bourne began holding classes in the conservatory for a handful of students.
In September, the enrollment went from the original four students to fourteen, and a first grade was added. In 1927, the school outgrew the Bourne home and was moved to 1261 San Pasqual St. in Pasadena which was the home of Mrs. William W. Butterfield who was appointed director and teacher. In 1928, The school was renamed to “The Claire Louise Progressive Elementary School.”
In 1930, when enrollment expanded to twenty-three students, the school soon moved to 245 West California St. in Pasadena. During this time, second and third grades were added to the program and nursery, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades soon followed. In 1931, the school needed a larger building and leased 3.5 acres on Huntington Drive in San Gabriel. It was also in that year that Mrs. Edwin L. Gardner, began a close relationship with the school that would last for the next thirty-six years. Under her leadership, the school continued to grow adding on seventh and eighth grades and a four-year high school. The school was also renamed “Clairbourn” which combines the first and last names of A.K. Bourne’s daughter, Claire Bourne.
Enjoy the slide show with early pictures of the school and Claire Bourne on this link: https://www.vidigami.com/albums/167459/media
Obituary – Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Mar. 6, 2019
Claire L.” Deede” Phillips died peacefully at home January 31, 2019 in Big Timber, Montana surrounded by her daughter, Vicki Phillips, her cherished friend, Barbara Van Cleve, and friends. Deede was born in New York City on January 3,1922 to Arthur Keeler Bourne and Emily Miller Bourne. She was baptized an Episcopalian and later became a Christian Scientist. Deede was the oldest of three children and spent her first few years in NYC until the family moved to Southern California in 1926 where her sister, Fredricka G. Bourne, and brother, John Gilbert Bourne, were born.
Deede was an avid and accomplished athlete enjoying and excelling in horseback riding, swimming, tennis, badminton and golf. She was invited to join the US Olympic swim team in her youth, and at 75 years of age, won a gold medal in Senior Olympics for tennis. She was admired for her grace and spirit in competition.
Deede married Victor C. Phillips on May 18,1941. They were married 33 years before his death in 1974 after long illness. They had three children: Lynn M. Phillips; John Phillips (died at birth); and Victoria L. Phillips. Deede attended Clairbourn School in San Marino, California, which was named in her honor.
After graduating from high school, she studied business at Pasadena City College. During World War II Deede served in the hospital administrative office while Vic served in Hawaii as a military aide to General Mitchell Willis (Army).
After the war, Deede and Vic started their family residing in San Marino, California. While Deede raised their family, she also found time to play golf, tennis and read books. Deede especially enjoyed Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, Tony Hillerman and P.D. James.
After her husband died, Deede created a new life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she loved the culture and was a patron of the arts. Eventually, she came to the Lazy K Bar dude ranch after reading Spike Van Cleve’s first book. Deede loved the many, many summers spent there and decided to move to Big Timber, Montana as she had become very fond of the little town.
Big Timber was a major recipient of her generosity through the Sweet Grass Arts Alliance for which she bought the building now housing the Two Rivers Gallery. The Food Bank and many other charities in and out of town also benefitted from her generosity.
Deede was a beloved mother and great friend. Her loving, kind, caring, happy spirit and generosity were a blessing to many. Her beautiful blue eyes, radiant smile and infectious laugh lit up many a room. Deede is survived by her son, Lynn M. Phillips and daughter, Victoria L. (Vicki) Phillips and her cherished friend, Barbara Van Cleve.
Cremation has taken place and graveside services will be held 11:00 A.M. Saturday March 16 at Mountain View Cemetery in Big Timber. A celebration of her life will follow at 1:00 P.M. at the Big Timber Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sweet Grass Arts Alliance, PO Box 517 Big Timber, MT 59011 or to Angel Horses, Inc., P.O. Box 20797, Billings, MT 59104. (Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Mar. 6, 2019)
Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit www.clairbourn.org.