Claire Loe, beloved daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, died November 3, 2016 due to a vicious cancer. She started her short but accomplished life in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France on March 13, 1964. She grew up in Houston, Texas, one of four daughters of Lee and Hardy Loe - a peace activist and a physician and professor of public health. Claire graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 1982. She then received her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from U.T. Austin, and her Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina.
After a stint at Houston’s Rusk Elementary School Clinic, she moved to Austin and, with 2 other healthcare professionals, created Community Health Education Consultants (CHEC), and Sage Words, a nonprofit committed to developing targeted, low-literacy, culturally appropriate materials that could promote healthy behavior. As part of this work, Claire created materials that addressed issues ranging from methamphetamine addiction to depression, translated into languages including Spanish, Navajo and Hopi.
In 1999, Claire was a key leader and member of the International Youth Friendship and Development Program. The mission of the IYFD is to build global youth friendships that will bring about peace among future generations. Claire accompanied us on our first travel seminar which was to the Republic of South Africa in 1999. Our focus was to help youth leaders understand their role in prevention of the deadly spread of HIV-AIDS and relate to their heritage in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
In 2006 she began doctoral studies at Houston’s U.T. School of Biomedical Informatics, where she was a Fellow of the Schull Institute.
In 2013 she became a Fellow with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, while completing her Ph.D, which was awarded in 2015. Then, as Claire Loe MPH, PhD, she became the Senior Informatics Analyst at Public Health Informatics Institute of the Task Force for Global Health in nearby Decatur.
She loved her job! She felt she was on her way, doing her life’s work. The Task Force appreciated her “unique qualities and talents”. Recently the organization received the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the highest award in the world for a humanitarian organization. The day before she died, Claire received her individual medal as recognition of her part in earning that prize.
Claire was more than school and work; she took peace and justice personally. In June,1989 she joined the Women's Convoy to Central America, a bevy of 70 US women (3 of whom were mechanics) who drove 21 trucks, buses, and ambulances filled with 13 tons of supplies and left them with women's groups in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In Austin and Houston she participated in Code Pink Women for Peace activities, which included demonstrations for peace and justice issues and creating her personal peace cars for Houston’s yearly Art Car Parade.
Her first art car was SALUD/HEALTH which she created with students at Rusk. While she was in Austin she had a Green Party one and in 2004 she bought her last car, a 2002 Prius. She decorated it with Peace Portraits of women activists, past and present (hoping it would encourage her to learn to paint portraits!). Claire drove that car to Atlanta when she took the fellowship with the CDC.
Claire is survived by her parents, her three sisters--Shari, Jan, and Leslie Loe, a brother-in-law—David Matsushima, a nephew and 3 nieces--Chris and Adrienne Benson, Sarah Matsushima, Amaya Loe, her nephew-in-law--Nate Cushman, many first and second cousins, and her beloved cat, Smudge.
Claire’s Celebration of Life will be held December 10 at 2pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5200 Fannin, 77004. She touched many lives, and the world is a better place because she lived.
The Claire Loe Doctoral Student Fund is being created at the UT School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI). To give on-line, http://sbmi.uth.edu. Or donors can mail checks made to UTHealth (with a note “Claire Loe scholarship) to: Office of Development, UTHealth, 7000 Fannin St., Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77030. This will continue her legacy of building a healthier world.