R.I.P. Claire O’Connor

Business and a little R&R have taken me out of town. I wasn’t going to file today but the world tells me what to do, not the other way around. Bad news came to me as I was politely saying “no thanks” to an indecent proposal—the death of my old and dear friend Claire O’Connor, which shocked my mind back to NYC. Known by this generation of club owners and attendees as that nice publicist lady, Claire had her heyday as the woman behind the man at Limelight, Peter Gatien.

That was before it became “that” Limelight and he became “that” Peter Gatien. Claire and husband/rocker Adam Bomb were a fixture in rock ‘n roll circles in that era, when the music being played by today’s DJ brats was being fermented and displayed in her joints. Cancer took her from us too soon. I am hard pressed to think of an enemy she made, or an argument she couldn’t resolve. The world I have decided to live in is hard on the body and the mind. It exacts untimely casualties, hand-in-hand with the glamour and excitement.

In his column, Michael Musto recalled how he worked with her on the still pending Night Club Hall of Fame. There were a lot of “personalities” at a large round table one afternoon and some people involved were motivated by personal advantage, rather than historical fact. Claire was the voice of reason. There were no egos she couldn’t corral, or delicate points of contention that she couldn’t work through. She approached that meeting as she approached life—with zero agenda and unquestionable honesty.

Sometimes when things got a little heated she would interject with her famous giggly laugh. She knew us like a mother knows her off-spring. She loved us all and relished the quirkiest of our quirks. I can’t get back for today’s services or tomorrow’s funeral; the loose ends of my trip will keep me from gathering with friends and colleagues to remember her.

The wake for Claire is today, August 1, at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue and 81st Street, from 2-5 pm and 7-9pm. Her family is requesting flowers. Her funeral will be on Tuesday, August 2, at 10am at St. Thomas More, 65 East 89th Street.

Tonight I will have a drink and reflect on all she meant to me and so many others. I will remember a time back in the day when I knew far less than I thought I knew… possibly less than I know now. She took me under her wing and showed me how to get things done. She taught not only how to thrive in the business but how to be a human being while dealing with the pressures, trials, and tribulations that come with the territory. Reflecting on how Claire lived her life and faced the end will inspire me to do better.

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