My Mom, Claudia Guenther, passed away in her sleep the morning of July 1, 2019 while on vacation in Vermont. If there is a better way to go than peacefully in a place you love, Vermont, next to the man that you love, her husband Jim, I can’t come up with it.
Claudia was born in New York City on April 17, 1948. Her family (mother Maria, brother Eric and sister Sharon) moved around during her early childhood years before settling in East Millstone, New Jersey when her college professor father Smith Palmer Bovie, was granted tenure at Rutgers University. She studied music in Boston as a freshman in college before returning to New Jersey to complete her education at Rider College (now University) with a degree in teaching.
Soon after she married her high school sweetheart George Sayler. She taught ninth grade until 1977 when she has her first daughter, Marie, I followed in 1979. When Marie and I were in middle school she rejoined the work force as a personal aide for disabled adults, first working with a wheelchair-bound young woman named Jenny as she completed high school and college and then with Archie, a young(ish) man with cerebral palsy. In the early 90’s Claudia met and married Jim Guenther, who turned out to be her “forever lover.”
They shared many interests and were (are) longtime members of the Lawrenceville Swimming Association, The Pennington Players and the Hopewell Presbyterian Church. Claudia was a member of Hopewell Valley Chorus for decades and never missed an opportunity to sing Happy Birthday. She volunteered for Meals-on-Wheels and organized and performed holiday sing-alongs at various senior centers in central New Jersey.
Jim and Claudia were true partners. They traveled regularly, attended cultural festivals and free concerts, embracing every style and genre of music.
In 2013 Claudia suffered a massive brain aneurysm. The recovery process stretched well over a year and a half and encompassed stays in the ICU at Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell, the Brain Trauma Unit as Lawrence Rehabilitation Center and six months at Merwick Rehabilitation in Plainsboro. Jim visited her every day after work during this time. Jim provided full time caregiving for Claudia when she came home in August 2014. She continued to recover with his help and support, occasionally forgoing use of a wheelchair.
Claudia loved Vermont, a place she spent every summer during her childhood with her family. She and Jim were on vacation there when he called me to say she had died overnight in, her sleep.
Funeral services will be held a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider to the spouse or the loved one who is a full-time caregiver and offering him or her a hand or a break of any duration. Living at home the last five years of her life would not have been possible without Jim’s unending support and care.