Claire Williams knows the Norman Rockwell Museum like the palm of her hand. The daughter of French émigrés, she was born and raised in Stockbridge, the quintessential New England town made immortal by Norman Rockwell's painting, Home for Christmas. Claire and her husband, Bob, raised their daughter Hope and son Rolf less than 2 miles from the Old Corner House and the Norman Rockwell Museum.
As a young woman Claire was spotted by Norman Rockwell as she modeled for Peggy Best, a local art teacher and artist. Rockwell asked Claire to come by his studio and model for a series of advertisements he was preparing for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. The photographers Bill Scovill and Louie Lamone were at the session with Claire, and she was given props and various articles of clothing to wear as Rockwell made his five sketches. On January 5,1959 she received a check from Mr. Rockwell for $25. (Claire's husband, Bob, who modeled for Rockwell in 1970, was only paid $10!)
When her children were in high school, Claire went to work at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Tending her greenhouse and her gardens is a passion of Claire's. One Sunday morning in 1984, Margaret Batty, the Director of the Old Corner House, spotted Claire singing in the Stockbridge Congregational Church choir and thought she would make a fine addition to the museum staff. Mrs. Batty offered her a position as a docent—with the incentive of a 25-cent an hour raise. Thus began Claire's 22-year association with the Norman Rockwell Museum.
As a docent, Claire (Mrs. Williams to the children) has introduced thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the country and the world to Norman Rockwell and other American illustrators of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her tours are impressive. In fact, she was recently described by one visitor, an experienced museum-goer, as "by far, the most inspiring, interesting/captivating, genuine, thought-provoking, informative and lovely" guide.
Claire's love of Norman Rockwell and her 22 years as a docent at the Museum has informed her philanthropy. When she and her son Rolf, a CPA, discussed her estate plan with a financial advisor following Bob's death, she listened carefully to Rolf's advice. "Focus your philanthropy, Mom, and make a difference".
Claire decided to make the Norman Rockwell Museum a beneficiary of her estate. Her planned gift reflects her commitment to the Norman Rockwell Museum and her desire to continue to "make a difference".
For information on how you can have a meaningful impact on the mission of the Norman Rockwell Museum, beyond your lifetime and far into the future, please contact Development at 413-931-2264 or Development@nrm.org.
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