Dracut, MA – Claire (Surprenant) Watson, Owner of JJ Boomer’s Restaurant Lowell Ma., age 75 born in Lowell on 10-20-1944, has completed the odyssey of her earthly life.
Claire died on Father’s Day June 21, 2020 in the arms of her loving husband James C. Watson. She succumbed to inoperable Brain Cancer while at home, under the loving care of Merrimack Valley Hospice surrounded by her devoted children, and many members of her loving family.
Claire, true to her nature fought a heroic battle, until the very end. Following her sudden diagnosis of inoperable brain cancer on 11/30/2019. She immediately underwent 30 sessions of Radiation and Chemo, intended to stop or delay the disease progression, but it was unfortunately unsuccessful.
As a child Claire was raised in the Little Canada section of Lowell, on Moody Street and during the day time, enjoyed roaming the streets and interacting with the St. Joseph Nuns in their convent and school. Next the family moved to Queen Street in the Highland section of Lowell where she lived in a 16-family tenant block, joining many of her cousins, uncles, and aunts who also resided there. She spent the early part of marriage in a small curb-side starter -home cottage on Beech Street in Centerville, which she immediately went to work painting and decorating until it was the jewel of the neighborhood.
Claire met her future husband James C. Watson in 1958, in the Centerville section of Lowell, at 13 years of age, while visiting with her sister Yvette, from her new home in Elyria Ohio. Her family had previously moved from Lowell to Ohio after her father was transferred by Ford Motor Company, following the closure of the Somerville Mass plant. However True Love was definitely in the air on that lucky day and their young love blossomed and flourished passionately until they were married in 1963 at 18 years of age.
In 1975 as their family grew, Claire and Jim moved their family to a much larger house in Hudson NH, where she continued raising her four children, along with her extended family of multiple welcomed live-in relatives, and neighborhood children, all who required her special love and attention. Especially true for Dana Tavoularis a ten-year-old neighbor who lived across the street, and became a regular daily visitor. Claire soon considered him to be her adopted son and continued to do so throughout her entire life.
As the family grew into adulthood, Claire turned her attention and energy to becoming a self-employed entrepreneur. First by opening the number one gift shop in the Dracut Tennis Plaza “Claire’s Gift World” A Hallmark greeting card shop that she operated for 15 years from 1977 to 1992. She expanded this thriving business several times, from the original one store front to a total of three, adding unique handcrafted gift items, and silk flower arrangements, and eventually a mail order catalog business that total over 20,000 customers.
Claire’s Gift World was the place to go when you needed a Special Gift for that Special Person. Claire would spend as much time as necessary helping customers find the perfect gift, and then put it in a nice gift box, elegantly gift wrap it, and place a handcrafted Bow on the top. It really made this gift very special and it was this type of extra effort that allowed her business to grow and prosper.
Claire continued her business success with the opening of JJ Boomer’s Restaurant in Dracut that she operated from 1991 to 2002, followed by a second location, JJ Boomer’s Restaurant of Lowell, that she operated from 1998 to 2019, when the property was sold to Market Basket for development.
Claire was the secret ingredient and the driving force behind the overwhelming success of these businesses.
She treated each customer as a member of her family and was always organizing special customer events including: free bingo, dice and card games, and many unique activity clubs like the “Ugly Tie Club” and the “Mad Hatters Hat Club”.
The most memorable event was the trip she organized to San Juan Puerto Rico, followed by a seven-day southern Caribbean tropical island cruise attended by 40 plus JJ Boomer’s regular customers. Claire truly made JJ Boomer’s “Dracut & Lowell’s Favorite Gathering Spot”.
Claire also authored and published a cook book in 2018 titled “Claire’s Café with Love” which was a collection of 125 of her favorite recipes including many Old French-Canadian Specialties remembered from her childhood days growing up in Little Canada on Moody Street Lowell. One of Claire’s most notable successes occurred in 1985 when she scored a coveted hole in one, on the second tee of the Dunfey’s Hyannis Golf Course, while competing with a group of business owners, and computer industry executives hosted by her husband. She enjoyed retelling of this great accomplishment every chance possible, to the smiles and envy of all her golfer friends. In 1995 she attended the PGA Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta Ga. and saw a young 19 years old Tiger Woods competing as an amateur, also rubbing elbows with his father Earl at the famous Amen Corner section of the course. Needless to say, this experience provided much animated story telling whenever in the presence of an interested Golfer.
Christmas was a very special holiday for Claire. Starting in her first home on Beech St. she hosted a Watson/Surprenant Blended Family Christmas Eve. Open House Party, attended by 100 plus family and guests. This event included Santa Clause in full attire, individual unique gifts for every person, picture taking, lavish home decorations, Christmas music, singing of hymns, and a huge selection of Holiday food and drinks, with the party continuing into the early morning hours. Most significant was the joy of combining the two different large Lowell families together (Watson & Surprenant) as one blended unit.
After the opening of JJ Boomers Restaurant, the Christmas Celebration grew to include gift giving to over 125 of Claire’s regular customers and vendors. Each person receiving a unique personalized gift bag she assembled based upon the person’s interests or occupation. The Watson Family Christmas Party was now held in the JJ Boomer’s Restaurant on Christmas Day which was closed to the public. This was the only day in the entire year that Claire would allow the restaurant to be closed, because she felt that her customers needed a place to go and socialize every day. Piles of beautifully wrapped Christmas Gifts awaited all Family participants, followed by a formal sit-down dinner with a Holiday table setting of fine china, elegant tablecloths, and the party room decorated in an elaborate Christmas theme done personally by Claire. This Christmas theme always included many festive candles, Christmas figurines, and coordinated seasonal lighting. These dinner party themes would change every year, and were always a world class level celebration that would be never be forgotten by the participants.
Claire always felt her formal education was lacking due to limited family economic circumstances, which only allowed her to graduate from the 8th grade at Notre Dame de Lourdes Grammar School before entering the full-time job market. However, Claire’s innate natural warm personality and hard work ethic, allowed her to achieve great personal happiness and business success. She was truly admired by all who met her and loved by all who grew to know her. Especially known for her kindness and generosity to others, and her direct and truthful attitude in all matters of her life. Claire would never tell a lie to benefit herself.
Claire and Jim celebrated their 55th Wedding Anniversary by renewing their wedding vows in 2018 with their entire family in attendance at the Chateau Restaurant Andover Ma. Dana Tavoularis officiating the services, her sons James and David walked her down the aisle, and her Great Grand Daughter Zoey was the flower girl.
It was a beautiful affair totally decorated for the occasion by her daughters Nicole and Michelle. It brought tears of joy and happiness to all who attended.
Claire was predeceased by her Parents: Ernest & Bertha (Laferrier) Surprenant, Sisters: Terry (Hall)-Gendron, Yvette Martineau, & Pauline Mc Kennon, Brothers: Ernest (Sonny), Maurice (Porky), Robert (Bobby) Surprenant.
Claire is survived by her husband of 56 years James C. Watson, her Brothers: Roger Surprenant of Lorain Ohio, Walter Surprenant of Kissimmee Fl., Sons: James E Watson and spouse Cynthia of Dracut Ma., & David R. Watson of Hudson NH, Daughters: Nicole M. Walters and spouse Rick of Windham NH, & Michelle E. Flannery and spouse Marty of Hudson NH., Adopted Son: Dana Tavoularis & spouse Cheryl of Dracut Ma., Grandchildren: James E. Watson & spouse Makenzie of Bristol Vt., Jaret Watson & Brieanna Watson of Dracut Ma. Shane Watson & Bret Watson of Hudson NH, Maxwell Walters & Jake Walters of Windham NH, Ryan Flannery & Emily Flannery of Hudson NH, and Shayla Tavoularis & Trevor Tavoularis of Dracut Ma., Great Grand Children include: Damian Watson of Hudson NH, Zoey Watson of Bristol VT., and Countless relatives.
In accordance to her final wishes, a private celebration of life will be held for the immediate family In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital PO Box 50 Memphis Tn. 38101-9929.