Cover photo for Ellen Magdalene Clair's Obituary
1931 Ellen M. Clair 2023

Ellen Magdalene Clair

July 6, 1931 — August 18, 2023



Ellen Magdalene Clair passed away peacefully in Farmington, New Mexico with her family at her side, on August 18, 2023.
She was born in Mount Olive, IL on July 6, 1931, to parents of Croatian descent. She lived in Cleveland until she departed for Pittsburgh on a voice scholarship with the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. While at Duquesne, she performed with the Tammies throughout the US and Europe and remained active in her beloved Tamburitzans alumni organization for decades. Subsequently, she went on to earn a Masters in Library Science from Duquesne.
Ellen was a devoted wife and mother, an accomplished singer and educator, and an enthusiastic traveler and student of the world. She made friends wherever she went.
She married John A. Clair on February 12, 1955, and had successful careers in Catholic secondary education and municipal communications while raising six children in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh. Ellen loved Pittsburgh, and for many years was a strong supporter of all things cultural that the city had to offer.
She is preceded in death by her parents Mark and Helen Ivas, her husband John A. Clair and granddaughter Caitlyn Gallagher.
Ellen is survived by her children Johanna Clair Abate (Robert), Margaret Clair West (Randy), Christina Clair (Buck), Mark Clair (Marcy), Lisa Gallagher, Karl Clair (Shereen) and grandchildren Cecilia Abate, William and Gareth West, Logan and Luke Clair, John and Elizabeth Gallagher, as well as 7 great grandchildren.
A private Catholic Mass and burial and a celebration of Ellen's life will be arranged at a later date in Pittsburgh.
Messages to the family can be posted at
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Ellen's name at one of her favorite charities,

"The accomplishments of my husband and children far exceed mine. Therein lies my worth."
-Ellen Clair

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