Claire Tow died peacefully on July 7 at Norwalk Hospital with her loving family by her side after a 14-year struggle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). She was 83.
Born on August 29, 1930 in Brooklyn, she was the daughter of the late Sigmund and Sadie Schneider. Claire and her husband Leonard were New Canaan, Conn., residents for the past 30 years, and lived in nearby Pound Ridge, N.Y., for 15 years prior. They had a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard and visited every summer.
Claire brought joy and friendship to countless people during her life. She was known for her fun-loving spirit, optimistic outlook, caring advice, good companionship and deep love of her friends and family. Claire’s relationships were not casual, and many lasted a lifetime. Despite the challenges of ALS, Claire continued to regularly attend concerts and theatre events in Connecticut and New York, luncheons with her friends in the Pound Ridge Dozen, and was present at milestone events in the lives of all of her children and grandchildren.
Claire was born to challenging circumstances on the eve of the Great Depression to immigrant parents. She attended New York city public schools, Brooklyn College, and became an elementary school teacher. Claire met her husband Leonard at Brooklyn College in 1949 and they enjoyed a wonderful lifelong romance and partnership of 65 years. Through good times and bad, they pursued their ambitions and followed their spirit of adventure, which led them on journeys to all corners the globe, and later to successful business ventures and careers devoted to deep and impactful philanthropy.
Claire was a co-founder, with her husband, of the cable television company Century Communications Corporation and the cellular telephone company Centennial Cellular Corporation. She served as a director and active executive of both companies, where she also had a long successful career developing a human resources department with the emphasis on human. Valued as a fair and caring employer, she was known for her problem-solving skills and wise counsel. She created a unique work environment, the memory of which longtime employees still treasure.
In addition to her professional career, Claire was a generous philanthropist. She devoted much of her time and skills to the many institutions that were dear to her. She was the president of the Tow Foundation, the charitable foundation she and her husband founded in 1988. Through grants from the foundation, Claire offered opportunities for personal success and joy, and helped to alleviate pain and suffering for countless individuals. Claire guided the family’s philanthropy to address the needs of the disadvantaged, medical research, treatment and care, the cultural arts, and higher education. Claire and Leonard were members of the Giving Pledge.
Claire was survived by her loving and devoted husband of 62 years, Leonard; her three children and their spouses: Frank Tow and Ronnie Klein, Andrew and Kathleen Tow, and Emily Tow Jackson and Dean Jackson, as well as eight grandchildren: Cameron Tow, Molly Tow, Olivia Tow, Celia Tow, Grace Tow, James Jackson, Benjamin Jackson and Hope Jackson.
Claire will be remembered as a beloved friend, confidant, colleague, tennis partner, party planner extraordinaire, and most of all, for her generous heart and beautiful smile. She will be missed by many far and wide.
The family received visitors at their home at 160 Lantern Ridge Road, New Canaan, Conn., on July 8 and 9.
A memorial service and celebration of Claire’s life will be held at a later date.
Contributions in Claire’s name may be made to the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter. The association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may donate at als-ny.org, or by mail to the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, 42 Broadway, Suite 1724, New York, N.Y. 10004
For online condolences, visit hoytfuneralhome.com.