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Claire C. Bennitt of Branford died May 5 at Connecticut Hospice in Branford, surrounded by her family. She was born in Meriden in 1931, daughter of the late Stephen Joseph Clark and Louisa Taylor Clark. She was educated at Dana Hall and Wellesley College.
A local leader and Connecticut conservation activist, she was the first woman to chair the Regional Water Authority and retired after 32 years of service on its board, 22 as secretary, 10 as chairwoman. In 1973 she became aide to state Rep. Dorothy McCluskey. Together they were instrumental in the creation of the Regional Water Authority. The two also authored “Who Wants to Buy a Water Company?”
In keeping with her original concern about water quality and land preservation, she played a key role in the authority’s establishment of the nonprofit Watershed Fund.
Claire served on the boards of many organizations, including the Branford Community Foundation, Orchard House Adult Day Center, Branford Land Trust, and the Natural Resources Council of Connecticut. She was active in both the Northford Congregational Church and the First Congregational Church of Branford. Recently she dedicated her time volunteering for IRIS and working to place refugees in her community.
She and her husband had a passion for building and repairing stone walls, many of which can be seen on Block Island. Her happiest hours were spent in her garden, fishing, knitting, and sailing with her family and friends.
She is predeceased by her husband Robert S. Bennitt. Claire leaves her children Colin Bennitt and his wife Barbara, Susan Bennitt, Martha Rice and her husband Robert, and Jennifer Vollero and her husband Wayne; and her beloved grandchildren Ian and Megan Bennitt, Trinidad, Beatrix, and Coral Serrano Bennitt, Wayne Vollero, Jr., and Timothy Rice; and great-grandchildren William, Louisa, and Lucy.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to The Watershed Fund, c/o Jennifer Slubowski, Regional Water Authority, 90 Sargent Dr., New Haven, CT 06511
All are invited to a celebration of her life on Saturday, June 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church in Branford.
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