Claire Jessie (Coville) McWilliams, 89, of Wareham died October 28, 2017 in Tobey Hospital. She was the widow of the late Francis “Tuey” McWilliams. They were married for 68 years.
Claire was born in Onset on January 21, 1928, the daughter of the late James H. and Jean Thirza (Collins) Coville and had lived in Onset and Wareham all her life. Claire loved and was proud of Onset and the Town of Wareham. Tuey and Claire spent 31 winters at their home in Sarasota, FL.
She graduated in 1946 from Wareham High School and attended the New England School of Art. She loved gardening, sewing, oil painting, bowling, the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. She never forgot a birthday or anniversary. Her cards will be missed by many.
She was a member of the Sippican Seniors, AARP, Tobey Hospital Guild, a Charter Member of the Friends of Wareham’s Elderly, Wareham Council on Aging and Wareham BPW Club.
She was a Brownie and a Girl Scout in Onset.
She was the Chief Assessing Clerk in Wareham for 19 years. In 1970 Mrs. McWilliams was elected as the first woman Assessor and Selectman in the history of the Town of Wareham. She was elected to four consecutive three-year terms as a Selectman and chose not to run again in 1982. In 1982, after 32 years in Wareham Town Government, Governor Dukakis, State Legislature, and the Town of Wareham honored her for her tireless work, compassion and dedication with many plaques, certificates, and awards.
She had many accomplishments, and was instrumental in establishing The Drug Committee and Drug Education Program, Council on Aging, Recreation Commission, Veterans War Memorial, Friends of Wareham’s Elderly, Industrial Park, Elimination of old Wareham Town Dump and opening of the Regional Sanitary Landfill Operation, construction of four new playgrounds, Onset and West Wareham Tennis Courts, and new White Island Fire Station.
She was original member of Wareham Personnel Board, Wareham Cemetery Commissioners, and Wareham Sewer Commissioners, Member of Bicentennial Committee, and Onset Centennial Committee. President of Plymouth County Selectmen’s Association, Elected Secretary of Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association, Executive Board Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association, original member of Governor’s Local Government Advisory Committee (Governor Dukakis). She was a communicant of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wareham.
Mrs. McWilliams was preceded in death by her loving husband Francis, her sister Phyllis Coville Gouge of Tennessee, her brothers; James Coville of Nashua, NH and Dennis Coville of Onset, MA, also her dear niece/godchild, Lynne Anderson of Sandwich. She is survived by her dear sister Vivien Gallerani and her husband Donald of Sarasota, FL and Onset, MA, her sister-in-law Muriel Coville of Nashua, NH and her brother-in-law Roy Gouge of Tennessee. She also leaves behind many loving nieces: Paula Millet, Tammy-Lyn Gallerani, Gina Grace Gallerani, Elizabeth Ann Coville, Claire Coville, Tanya Coville and Heather Coville and nephews: Donald Gallerani, Jr., James Gallerani and Michael Hammerle.
Her funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in St. Patrick’s Church, 82 High St., Wareham. Burial will follow in Agawam Cemetery.
In lieu of sending flowers, Claire would appreciate her many friends planting a perennial in their own garden in remembrance of her.