YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Claire Maluso, 92, of Canfield and longtime Youngstown resident, passed away peacefully after a short illness on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
Claire was born May 6, 1929 in Youngstown to John L Saunders and Florence Fitch Saunders who were one of the founding families of St. Brendan’s Church.
She attended St. Brendan’s School, was a 1947 graduate of Chaney High School and later earned her Associates Degree from Youngstown College.
Her mother often told the story that Claire continually asked to be able to find a job and start a career long before she was 16. Her 16th birthday wish would eventually be granted! While still a student at Chaney, she was hired as Chaney’s office assistant and so impressed the administration that upon graduation, Chaney’s Principal, Dr. C.W. Ricksecker, a strict pedagogist, prevailed upon the School Board to hire her as his personal secretary and school office manager! Thus began a 75-year career of service, compassion, and love of life that led to deep recognition for all that she did, and the lives she touched.
It was during her time as Dr. Ricksecker’s Personal Secretary and Office Manager that she met and ultimately married the love of her life, John Maluso.
Mr. Maluso, a 1942 Chaney graduate and Navy veteran was a Senior at Youngstown College and was doing his student teaching at Chaney during the 1949 school year. Claire and others often said that “Ricky” (as Dr. Ricksecker was known to his close friends) himself introduced and encouraged their relationship. They were married on August 19, 1950 and would have celebrated 71 years of marriage this year.
Claire’s love for the City of Youngstown was only surpassed by her love for her family. She was passionate about combining work and service with raising a family and being totally present in their lives.
Accustomed to working in an academic environment (during high school and after), she enjoyed several years teaching and doing administrative work in city and parochial schools. While starting a family in the early 50’s she worked as a part time bookkeeper for JC Penney and was valued as a skillful office manager for several area surgeons and physicians. Among them were Dr. Henry Schorr, Dr. Vernon Goodwin, Dr. Robert Wiltsie, and Dr. James Anderson.
All of this prepared her for setting out in the early 60’s to forge a varied and fascinating career for a woman of her time. During the 1950s and early 60s, Claire was deeply involved and often led many local civic groups and organizations. Among the many were the NCCJW (National Council of Christian and Jewish Women), Chi Epsilon, Quota International, the Youngstown Playhouse, the Kenley Players and too many more to mention here. Claire was ecumenical and inclusive to people of other races and religions long before others of her time. Her life was dedicated to service and helping others.
From 1967 through 1974, she combined her teaching and business skills working, as Director of Training and Development at Strouss’ where she hired and trained employees in nine satellite stores. While at Strouss’, Claire introduced and implemented the installation of the first electronic cash registers in the Youngstown area. Made by NCR, they were the first point of sale machines made, but in Claire’s opinion, came with a clumsy and poorly written training manual. Using her own time, Claire wrote an entirely new manual while devising a different training methodology as well. NCR so valued Claire’s expertise that they offered her a position with the company- a position that also required a great deal of travel within Ohio and adjoining states. While she enjoyed the work, she did not enjoy the time away from her family.
While implementing the installation of those same NCR machines at Hartzell, Rose and Son’s, the premier Men’s and Boy’s specialty store in the region, owner Fred Rose offered her a position and made her the first female Vice President, then later Executive Vice President in the company’s history. This enabled Claire to be home each night for her husband and two children which was very important to her.
Beginning in 1975, Claire conducted management seminars at Youngstown State University that led to nationwide engagements. As a featured speaker, these seminars were so well received by the retail industry that she was inspired to write her book, Management By Objectives, A Dollars and Sense Approach. In 1979, Claire created her consulting business, CM Consultants, and traveled the country training, consulting and speaking, while still working with numerous regional companies.
Because of her love of travel, Claire dreamed of working in the travel industry which led to the development of Eagle Tours in 1986. To this day people from all around the Mahoning Valley still speak fondly of the first-class bus tours she hosted. Over time, Eagle Tours became a full-service Travel Agency providing flights, cruises, and international travel.
Claire was recruited by the City of Youngstown to become the Youngstown Federal Plaza Director, a job she embraced from 1988 through 1998, and returned to after a successful venture as the 17th District Congressional Development Director from 1998 through 2003.
Claire refused to accept the negativity that became prevalent as businesses closed and the area’s population fell. She jumped in with both feet to create events that included parades for Presidents, ribbon cuttings, festivals, ice show events, and major city beautification and transformation projects. Her love for the city of her birth was unsurpassed. She finally “retired” from that position at age 74 but given her inability to “say no”, when asked she continued to be involved with committees and projects that would fatigue a much younger person.
During her tenure with the Congressional District, among other things, she was personally responsible for bringing $2.3 million dollars to The Youngstown Playhouse, bringing the Covelli Center to Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to the area.
She was on the Board of Directors of Youngstown Cityscape, a position that she held near and dear to her heart. Her list of awards and commendations are too numerous to mention.
On July 14, 2009, she was honored in the downtown central business district with a floral garden and commemorative plaque on Central Square stating, “In Honor of Claire Maluso, the Lady of the Lights, Who Helps All Good Things Grow.” Her city lighting campaign raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund and install the downtown “twinkle lights” at no cost to the city or its residents.
Proud of her English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh and Dutch heritage, Claire was uniquely honored as “Woman of the Year” by the Regional Italian American Committee in 1996.
In November 2013, Claire and her husband John sold the westside home they built in 1955 and moved into a parent’s suite, built for them, in their daughter’s new home in Canfield. After an accident, Claire moved into Masternick Memorial in 2016 and was a resident there until her passing.
Claire leaves her husband of 71 years, John; her children, John, Jr. (Andrea) of Dallas, Texas and Mary Jo (Rick Blackson) of Canfield; grandchildren, Dr. Patrick Maluso (Kim Huynh) of Shaker Heights and Attorney Lauren Maluso (Drew Fugate) of Dallas, Texas.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Joseph and Jack Saunders; sisters, Irene Laughlin and Jean Sheehan; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may pay their respects on Sunday, June 13, 2021 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market Street, Boardman.
There will be a Mass of Christian Burial held on Monday, June 14, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 343 Via Mount Carmel, Youngstown.
Claire’s family would like to offer sincere thanks to the entire staff and caregivers at Masternick Memorial for the superb care, concern and comfort they provided Claire and her family throughout her stay there. Special thanks and love must go to Activity Director, Steve Seifert who treated her like his own mother; Director of Nursing, Renee Ruggles; Nurse’s Aide, Devi Tiberio, and Maria LaBoy, STNA.
The family kindly asks those planning to come to calling hours to wear a mask. Masks will be provided at the funeral home for those needing one.
Family and friends may visit www.rossisantuccifh.com to sign the guest book and send condolences to Claire’s family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Claire M. (Saunders) Maluso, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Thursday, June 10 at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV.