Clara B. Douglas made her transition peacefully on Saturday, September 2 with her family by her side. She lived a remarkable life, overcoming persistent adversity to raise three boys as a single mother while maintaining a successful career as a college professor, serving her community and remaining active in her church.
Clara was a resident of East Windsor, N.J. for over 50 years. She leaves behind three sons, Thomas, Timothy and Bryan Douglas, three grandchildren, Maya, Myles and Braxton Douglas, three sisters, Martha Harrison, Sophia Harrell and Gwendolyn Coleman and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Clara had a genuine affection for other human beings and would literally do anything to help those in need. Clara cared deeply about everyone in her inner
circle, even those that did not treat her with the respect that she deserved. Throughout her life, she demonstrated a rare capacity to forgive that is unique in the modern day human experience.
Clara loved to engage other human beings, be they family, friends or strangers. She usually had her big, radiant smile and a sincere greeting for anyone that crossed her path. That said, she also maintained a mischievous sense of humor, never missing an opportunity to tease anyone within range of her voice.
Above all, Clara cared about her family. She was the matriarch, successfully holding her immediate family together through both hardships and triumphs for over five decades. She was proud of her family, her life and her accomplishments.
Clara was born on April 22, 1939 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Early Edward and Clara Fuller Bailey. She attended Winston-Salem public schools, graduating from Atkins
High School in 1957. She subsequently received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing
from Winston-Salem Teachers College. After working for a year at Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital she received a National Institute of Mental Health grant to attend Boston University Graduate School of Nursing where she received a Master of Science degree in Child Psychiatric and Mental Health nursing. Her masters thesis addressed the therapeutic use of music in treating children.
Clara returned to North Carolina in 1964. She accepted a cooperative agreement with the Agricultural and Technical College of Greensboro and Winston-Salem to teach psychiatric nursing at the baccalaureate level. In 1965, Clara moved to Boston to take a position as an instructor in the area of growth and development at the Walter E. Fernald State School in Waltham, MA, and was eventually promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing Education. During her time at the Fernald School, she worked closely with Dr. Murray Sidman on reinforcement techniques with the mentally impaired. In 1967, Clara relocated to New Jersey. Shortly after arriving in N.J., she wrote and directed a grant for staff development at Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment center. She joined the nursing faculty at Mercer County Community College in the spring of 1969. After a seven year maternity leave, she returned to Mercer in 1979 where she remained as a tenured professor for 30 continuous years, retiring in 2009. Among her accomplishments at Mercer, in 1971 she was the primary author of a Mastery Education grant for the program. The grant was funded and the program was developed and implemented in 1975. This program was instrumental in helping Mercer Community College establish and maintain higher rates of course completion and first time passage of the state licensure exam.
In 1994 Clara received a certification in pharmacology for Advance Practice Nurses from the University of Pennsylvania and became a licensed Advance Practice Nurse with prescription privileges in the state of New Jersey. In 1995 Clara served as a test item writer for psychiatric nursing content for the National Council of Licensure for Registered Nurses, under the auspices of the Educational Testing Service.
While raising her family, Clara was elected to the East Windsor Regional Board of Education three times, serving as its President for a term and for nine years total. She remained active in the community as long as she was able, volunteering at a local nursing home and providing professional counseling pro bono. An accomplished musician, she was also a constant presence in her church choir.
A celebration of Clara’s life will be held at the Windsor Ballroom (Holiday Inn), 399 Monmouth St., East Windsor, N.J. 08520 on Saturday, November 18, 2023 from 12 – 3 pm. All are welcome.