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Clair A. Samhammer
August 20, 1928 ~ October 15, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old
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Clair Allison Samhammer, a cherished soul and beacon of creativity, went to be with the Lord on October 15, 2023, at the age of 95. Born in the summer of 1928 in Easton, Pennsylvania, Clair's life was a testament to the power of faith, the warmth of family, and the pursuit of passion.
Clair grew up in the nurturing town of Easton, where he attended local schools. He attended Easton High School and earned First Chair playing violin, this fostered a love for learning and an innate curiosity. He furthered his education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where Clair's talents in art grew and flourished. He earned a Certificate and later in life a Bachelor's Degree. He joined the Pratt Glee Club in order to meet the love of his life, Pauline Juliette Foti. Their union on September 9, 1950, was blessed with 41 years of devotion until she was called home in 1991. Clair's heart found companionship once more when he wed Verna Jeanne Owen in 1993, sharing 14 years of matrimony until her passing.
Professionally, Clair's career spanned an impressive 63 years in the field of industrial design. His journey began at Creative Industries in Detroit, MI. Later he joined the team of Sundberg-Ferar Design where Clair represented them at an esteemed position at IBM. From there, his friend Jim Balmer became manager at Harley Earl, Inc. and asked Clair to join their design team where he supervised an exact 1/3 scale custom iconic 1953 corvette pedal car design. This project took four people three months to build at a cost of three times the price of a real 1953 Corvette. Harley Earl then gave the pedal car to an executive business friend. In 1959, Southern California became his new home, where he furthered his career with Mel Best and Associates which later became Design West Inc. With this firm he garnered numerous accolades for innovative briefcase and suitcase designs for Samsonite, before venturing into his own successful business 13 years later, Creative Design Center. Clair's leadership and innovation were recognized by the Industrial Designers Society of America, where he not only served as President of the Los Angeles IDSA Chapter but was also honored in 1978 as a Fellow for his distinguished contributions to the profession. He also instructed Industrial Design classes at USC and at the Cal State University in Long Beach and was a visiting instructor at Art Center College of Design.
Clair's life was rich with interests that reflected his intelligent and faith-filled spirit. His passion for model trains, a legacy from his father, led to the creation of a magical, larger G scale train that enchanted all who saw it circle his yard. Clair's adventurous heart took him backpacking through mountains with his Alaskan Malamute by his side, each carrying their own Clair custom-designed backpacks. His love for sailing was profound, living on a sailboat until the birth of his first Grandchild, savoring slow sails upon the open seas to all the Channel Islands. Above all, Clair was a man of strong faith. His passion for Jesus was ignited during the Jesus movement, shaping him into a dedicated Sunday School Teacher and Bible Study Host. His life echoed the words of the Apostle Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).
Clair Allison Samhammer leaves behind a legacy of love and creativity. He is survived by his son, Eric and daughter-in-law Lisa Marie Samhammer; his daughter, Patricia Ellen and son-in-law David Whiston; his adored grandchildren, Alexander, Michael, James M.,Trevor Joseph and his wife Margarette Simaan Samhammer; and his cherished great-great-grandchildren, Sofia and Ethan Ferris; Also his extended family children, Jim and his wife Stefanie Owen, Jims sister Julie Owen, along with grandchildren Leah Marie and Amy Noelle whose names he loved to say. Clair’s son Christopher Samhammer preceded him in death in May 2020.
As we gather to celebrate Clair's remarkable journey, we remember a man whose life was a reflection of his passions: intelligent design, faith-filled living, and a fervent love for his family. Clair Allison Samhammer was a man whose spirit will continue to inspire those who were blessed to know him. In his passing, he leaves not just memories, but a blueprint on how to live a life anchored in devotion, creativity, and love. Today, we bid farewell to a remarkable man, trusting he has been warmly welcomed into the eternal embrace of his Creator.