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Claude D. Clapp

Born on 1-17-1921. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of Education. He later died on 5-2-2003.
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Claude D. Clapp, the son of Marguerite Mason Clapp Shannon and Claude D. Clapp, was born in Buffalo, New York. He attended Buffalo Public Schools and, for one year, Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky where he lived with his uncle, Leroy Mason. He graduated, in 1940, from Fosdick Masten High School in Buffalo, with yearbook notations of Star Roll, Honor Roll, Chronicle, Hill Topics, Football, and Track. He left Buffalo after graduation to attend Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, turning down an athletic scholarship from the University at Buffalo for the academic scholarship awarded to him by Talladega. He met his wife of fifty-three years, Ouida Eleanor Harrison of Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Celia Juliette Howard Harrison and William L. Harrison, Sr. at Talledaga.

World War II intervened during his Talladega years, and like most of the undergraduate men, he was forced to leave college when he was drafted into the United States Army to join the World War II campaign. He became a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps, serving from 1944 to 1946 as administrative staff officer at Tuskegee Air Base with the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Following his honorable discharge in 1947, Claude earned a degree in Mortuary Science from Worsham Mortuarial College in Illinois. He had intended on following in the footsteps of his uncle, Leroy Mason, who had established Mason and Sons Funeral Home in Louisville, Kentucky. When he married Ouida Harrison on July 20th, 1947, the marriage license listed his occupation as "mortician". However, when the newlyweds returned from their Detroit wedding to Buffalo, he made the decision to continue his education earning a Bachelor's degree. In 1955 he earned a Master's degree in education administration from the University at Buffalo.

Two daughters were born during those years before he began his long and distinguished career as an educator and administration: Karen Andrea in 1948 and Karla Francesca in 1949. To support the family while he was in school, he worked at Don Allen Chevrolet, the Buffalo Transit Authority and Cornel Labs. In 1955, Leslie Ellen, the couple's third daughter was born.

Claude moved through the ranks to garner historic distinctions in the city. In 1953 both Claude and Ouida earned eligibility for Buffalo public school appointments, and he was appointed a teacher at School 6. Clapp was appointed a temporary teacher in the Buffalo School District in 1952. In 1954 he was appointed as a teacher as School 87. He and Ouida were the first black married couple employed as teachers and he was the first black assistant principal and then the first black principal of a Buffalo Public School. He held both positions at what was then School 28 on South Park Avenue in 1959. In 1965, he was appointed as the Director of Finance and Research for the school district. Again, he was the first African American to hold an administrative post within the school district. In 1966, he was named Associate Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools. When he and Ouida retired in 1985, he was Deputy Superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.

During his tenure with the schools, he negotiated every contract with the Buffalo Teachers Federation. At the time of his retirement, the president of the association spoke of the loss of his leadership to the schools as having "incalculable proportions" noting that Claude was a "moderating force, a man of impeccable integrity." The Buffalo News noted that he "earned a reputation for carefully thought out decisions and a quiet way of getting things done, as well as a toughness of conviction - tactfulness remains his trademark."

He brought that distinction, integrity and leadership to a lifetime of public service in Buffalo. One critical legacy of his tenure with the schools was his institutional support of the United Negro College Fund. It was at his direction and initiative, and with the ultimate support of the BTF and UNCF gained a specific designation for contributions on Buffalo teacher's paychecks. His service to the city has been similarly path breaking and is noted partially in the awards and recognitions earned during the years. They include the Urban League's Evans-Young Award, the Educator of the Year Award from the Black Educators Association, the National Council of Christians and Jews Brotherhood in Education Award, the William Wells Brown Award of the Afro American Historical Association, the Langston Hughes Institute Commemorative Award, the Elks Education Award and the National Columbus Day Committee Education Award. Together, Ouida and Claude received the Medgar Evers Award from the NAACP in 1985. Claude also was granted an honorary doctorate and served as a trustee to Medaille College.

Always together, and occasionally with their daughters or grandchildren, Ouida and Claude traveled widely across five continents. They valued especially their stay in Nigeria with Leslie and Michael's family, and they enjoyed, as well, travels in Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Europe, Brazil, Haiti, India, Russia and China and Japan.

Early in their marriage Claude and Ouida were members of Bethel A.M. E. Church, and later, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. During the last three decades he regularly attended Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church with Ouida.

Claude joined Omega Psi Phi Fraternity while at Talladega and while in Buffalo joined Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He was also a member of Alpha Kappa Boule, for which he served as Sire Archon. Perhaps most memorable to those select few gentlemen friends of his later years was membership in the S.O.B.'s, the Society of Old Bulls, as Claude inaugurated the group. Their occasional monthly luncheon meetings held forth on matters of historic and contemporary significance to African Americans, the nation, and this city. This society formed a singularly unique gathering that contributed significantly to the enjoyment of his later years. A passion for reading, particularly history and biography, characterized his life and is evident in his extensive book collection. Additionally, the deep appreciation he had for music, especially classical, opera and jazz, was clear to all who visited his home where this music was a constant accompaniment to his life.

His wife, Ouida, daughter Karen Andrea Clapp Graves, grandson Bem K. Holloway and devoted friend Walter (Jack) Givens preceded him in death. Claude Clapp died on May 2, 2003. His two daughters, Karla F.C. Holloway, PhD and Leslie E. Clapp, MD, as well as a sister Johnetta Clapp Mosby and seven grandchildren survived him.