This Saturday, East Falls Community Council released an email announcing the passing of Claire Stilley, a dedicated neighborhood volunteer & enthusiastic advocate for a Dog Park in East Falls. She was only 47.
In recent years, Claire served as Community Council’s Second vice president, organizing such popular events as the Chili-Cook-Off and the Carol Sing in McMichael park. To us, she was a bright, boisterous spirit who loved dogs about as much as she loved leading and organizing, especially at the community level where she thrived.
And she loved Tobie, her chocolate lab-mix rescue. Our dog, Ducky, loved the both of them — sometimes a little too much, ha.
We all met at a Halloween party/fund-raiser to help support an East Falls Dog Park. We quickly began working together on efforts such as a Yappy Hour at Roxborough’s Foodery and “Watch Dogs,” a proposed program to provide Town Watch training to dog walkers. Claire even helped organize the first East Falls Pack Walks!
Claire was always up for a chat, a beer, a stroll thru her favorite neighborhood — but also as a friend she was a fantastic sport. I will never forget how she gamely agreed to let me give her a “Mad Men Makeover” for the Hohenadel House party, and loyally sat for hours while I practiced the perfect beehive on her curled, teased hair (see above). She tried on dozens of dresses till we found a sleek black shift to show off her long, lean legs.
Unfortunately, Claire fell ill days before we could debut her new look. Seemed without warning, she was fighting for her life. This past year, I’ve deeply missed seeing her smiling face around town — but I’ve never stopped looking. Oh Claire… you really know how to leave an impression, don’t you?
I’ve missed our walks, our goofs, and our gossips. I’ve missed running our dogs together at Redeemer Church’s fenced yard (thanks, Teddy!).
Wherever you are, please know that somehow, someway — if there’s any justice in this world — there’s gonna be an East Falls dog park with your name on it. May our fond memories help mend fences and inspire renewed efforts for community improvement.
Peace, Claire Stilley. And thanks for all you did to make a difference.