Dec. 7, 1937 – Oct. 10, 2012
Claire A. Besch, a hard-working woman who raised seven children and in later life made far-ranging trips with her husband in their beloved motor homes, died in her Lancaster home after fighting a rare form of cancer for the past eight months. She was 74.
Known as “Petie” to her friends from her childhood days, Mrs. Besch was born Claire Sweetman in Lancaster and lived her whole life in the town. She attended Catholic elementary school in the town and then St. Mary’s High School, when it was called “St. Mary’s on the Hill,” graduating in 1955.
She worked for some time in the plumbing, heating and cooling business of her husband, Justin. Later, she became a licensed Realtor and worked in that business. She also managed apartments with her husband.
After the couple acquired a store containing a liquor store, on Central Avenue, they operated the business for about six years. With her husband, she was also the owner of Lancaster Memories, a family-style restaurant on Broadway near Church Street. That business was run by the couple for eight years.
“She was the best cook – one of the best in the whole area,” recalled her husband, whom she married in 1956. “Just about anything she created, it was sold out every day. She was just excellent as a cook.”
Mrs. Besch was a lifelong member of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church.
She liked to travel and with her husband would tour in motor homes all over the country and beyond, including a trip they made in 1992 to the Panama Canal – a journey of about 16,000 miles in total. Other touring stops included Newfoundland, British Columbia, and the U.S. West Coast.
Mrs. Besch enjoyed sewing and clipping coupons, and also was known for her fondness of fishing and trapshooting.
Among her favorite things to do was spend time with her 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Survivors include her husband, Justin E. “Buzz” Besch; two daughters, Carmel Mecozzi and Peggy Slawatycki; four sons, Jay, Peter, Wayne and Justin; a sister, Mimi Smith; and a brother, Tom Sweetman.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. Mary’s Church, 1 St. Mary’s Hill, Lancaster.