Author Archives: jrubini

Following the Purple Road…

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I’ve often felt like L. Frank Baum’s immortal character Dorothy throughout these last ten years.  By trying to find my way back “home” after losing my ten year old daughter Claire, I’ve discovered some amazing people who have locked their arms around mine as I move forward in my healing journey.

One of these new friends is Claire’s Day committee member Merrill Rainey.  Several months ago he offered to submit an application for our organization to be considered for an opportunity through an organization of professional graphic artists that he belongs to, AIGA Toledo.  His wish was granted.

By the wave of the good witch’s wand, and the diligent efforts of AIGA Toledo members, what you are witnessing is a result of a team of volunteers working very hard to create a new Claire’s Day logo, website and entire new marketing template for our organization.

On March 26 these professional graphic artists gathered for an intensive day of creativity, a “charrette” to provide this new look for the organization.  The team members have been working nonstop since to adhere to our deadlines for our Claire’s Night invitations, posters, bookmarks and this crown jewel, the website. They are truly wizards!

I found it rather poetic that I was out of town on that designated day, visiting colleges with our son Ian.  My husband and Claire’s father, Brad, and our new executive director, David Justus, provided the emotional story behind the formation of the organization, and the direction we are moving towards in my absence.

I am so very impressed with the end result, and proud that as an organization (and as the founder of such!) that we could let go of our little angel logo that guided us through our first nearly ten years, and embraced the opportunity to receive this incredible gift.

What has struck me most is that the new look captures the very essence of Claire, even though none of the AIGA members ever met her.

Claire was fun, spirited, feisty, and loved spending time with friends and her younger brother and sister.  Purple was her favorite color, and above all else, she loved reading books and telling stories.

Just as Dorothy and her friends discovered in their meeting with the Wizard, I have come to recognize that what I’ve needed to make my way home has been with me all the way.

A loving family, including Brad and our children Kyle and Ian, old and new friends and a special angel that has spread her purple dust and magically made things happen on our journey.  We have had many members of the community give their brains, hearts and courage to help us move forward.  It is my hope that they have found what they sought on this “purple road” as well.

Make sure to join me and all of our wonderful Claire’s Day friends at the end of the purple road at the tenth annual Claire’s Day on Saturday, May 21 at the Maumee Branch Library.

Remembering Wil Clay

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I first met Wil outside of Fort Miami Elementary School in Maumee in March of 2002, as he wheeled his books and artwork into the gymnasium for a visit with parents and children. I was struck by his huge smile, warm handshake, and amusing straw hat. This visit was the beginning of a special tribute to honor our daughter Claire, and a friendship that blossomed as a result of his participation in Claire’s Day for the last nine years. Children and families attending the annual book festival clamored to have time with Wil, to hear his stories, to witness his magical drawing demonstrations, and to have him personally sign one of his lovely illustrated books. We were honored by his participation in our event, and he is and will be missed. It is our intent to pay tribute to his support in a unique fashion at the tenth annual Claire’s Day on May 21 at the Maumee Library. My heart is aching, saddened by the awareness that I won’t be able to join Wil for one more cup of coffee at Georgette’s, won’t ever again hear his voice over the phone, sharing his stories, or encouraging words. Wil was not only a talented artist, illustrator, sculptor and storyteller, he was a wonderful man and friend. His spirit will live on through his legacy of art, storytelling and kind soul. Our prayers and condolences are offered to his beloved family and friends.

Julie K. Rubini, on behalf of the Claire’s Day Inc. organization