Claudia Jo Piff died on January 4, 2019. Claudia was a youthful and energetic 65 years old, still working hard and very much involved in the life of her family and community, when, in the late fall of 2018, she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The cancer was aggressive, and Claudia’s health swiftly declined in a matter of weeks. She passed on peacefully at her home on San Juan Island, in the company of close friends and family.
Claudia was born in 1954, the fourth child of six. In 1966, the Carter family moved from Seattle to San Juan Island, where Claudia’s parents, Gale and Doreen, founded the Islands Convalescent Center. The Carters, ever service-minded, made little distinction between family life and the family business; the children grew up roaming the nursing-home hallways, helped out and got into mischief, and eventually became responsible teenage employees. After Claudia graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 1972, she moved to the mainland, earned her LPN license, and worked in nursing all her life.
Claudia married Jonathan Piff in 1977 in Seattle, Washington, and gave birth to a daughter, Alexandra, and twin boys, Stuart and Elliot. The Piff family migrated briefly to
Nacogdoches, Texas, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, for Jon’s work, and then settled in Medford, Oregon, for most of the 1990s. In 1999, cancer struck Claudia’s mother Doreen, prompting Claudia and Jon to move to the island in support of the new family business, Carter’s Place Adult Family Home. Claudia managed Carter’s Place until its closure in 2008.
Claudia and Jonathan enjoyed an active island life together, walking and hiking regularly, cooking nutritious meals and growing spiritually as members of the Baha’i Faith. One of Claudia’s lifelong interests was interior decorating and design. She loved family get-togethers, travel, movies, good music and her favorite HGTV shows, and she rearranged the furniture endlessly.
Claudia had several bouts of cancer in her life. She was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1998. That cancer was caught and remained in remission until its late recurrence. She also was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, and that too was treated successfully. Because of her experience with cancer, Claudia took every effort to maximize the joys of life and health.
Friends remember Claudia for her smile, laugh, wit, her love of hosting and fun-loving sense of humor. She took comfort and strength in the Baha’i prayers and writings, and late in life, Claudia began attending Al-Anon meetings. Using tools and principles she learned there, Claudia shared her experiences and her strength and gleaned a perspective that proved profoundly powerful and transformational. Over the years that followed, she achieved a mastery of self that her close friends and family found nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Claudia was preceded in death by her mother, Doreen Carter, in 2004, and her father, Gale Carter, in 2009. She is survived by her husband, Jonathan Piff; her three children
Ali Piff, Stuart Piff and Elliot Piff; Ali’s partner Jim Miller; Elliot’s wife Sandra Sommers; and her five siblings and their spouses, Greg and Lisa Carter, Kate Carter, Laurie and Mark Carter-Piff, Roger and Jane Carter, and Candy and David Roseberry.
An intimate graveside service took place on Jan. 7, 2019 at the Valley Cemetery on San Juan Island.
The community is invited to a Memorial Celebration of Claudia’s Life. The dessert-potluck event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, 1-3 p.m. at the Mullis Center in Friday Harbor, Washington.