Claire Bottum

May 6, 1922 — November 26, 2021

Claire E. Bottum, 99, of Hayward and formerly of Drummond, passed away peacefully on Thursday evening, Nov. 26, 2021, at Water’s Edge Care Center in Hayward.

Claire Eleanor was born May 6, 1922, in Worth, Illinois, the daughter of Chauncey and Marion (Felt) Bottum of Chicago. Claire moved with her family around 1924 to northern Wisconsin, where her parents began building a lodge on the shore of Wildernest Lake (Wilderness L. on the map) near Drummond, in “the most remote part of the most remote county” in Wisconsin. As a child, Claire attended one-room schools, and was also educated at home where, formally, her mother was the teacher and father was the principal. Her childhood education included the forest, and forest creatures as she grew. She loved nature and wildlife. Birds flew trustingly to her hands. As a young woman she graduated from Drummond High School and lived briefly in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she worked for Kellogg’s during World War II.

She returned home to Wildernest Lodge by the end of the war and then subsequently lived in Peoria, Illinois; Clinton, Wisconsin; and Janesville, where she raised two boys. About 1961 she moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. She worked as an electronics technician for Sperry Rand Corporation, Telemation and others. But her love of the Northwoods of Wisconsin never diminished and, upon retirement, Claire moved back to Drummond, where she could continue to be in the wilderness that she loved. She was a reader and widely self-educated person, a true naturalist who could name every flower, and was knowledgeable of literature, science, history and astronomy. Her favorite books included “The Wizard of Oz” by Baum, “Laddie” by Porter, and the works of J. R. Tolkein. She often quoted poetry at home. In retirement she wrote hundreds of poems of wit and wisdom, and solemn themes, sometimes waking in the night with ideas. Her works have been gathered into a semi-autobiographical book, “The Ghost Train” by Claire E. Bottum, compiled and edited by family members.

Claire is survived by her two sons, Frederick S. (Nataliya) Felt of Woodland Hills, Utah, and John A. (Colleen) Podlesny; eight grandchildren; one step-granddaughter from Moscow; about 20 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews from her two sisters.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Marion Eleanor (1949) and Chauncey Aird Bottum (1965); her infant son, Leon; and two sisters, Nancy and June. She was the last leaf on the Bottum family tree.

No services are planned for Claire at the time. A private interment will be held.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Drummond Public Library, 14990 Superior St., Drummond, WI 54832.

Online condolences may be shared with Claire’s family at www.bratley-nelsonchapels.com.

The following is one of Claire’s poems from “The Ghost Train.”

Simply Stones . . .

Earth's fairest-gems are simply stones,

Lying on the ground like animal bones;

Where, (since these treasures work to the top),

A child may garner a plentiful crop!

Rolled by waves, all splashed in the foam,

Some child may unearth a few of his own;

Perhaps he may single the prettiest out,

And garner a treasure left lying about!

(Beneath a great-log high up on the beach,

Hidden by alders, far from waves reach . . .

I dug a secret-hole and filled it way up,

With pebbles; like cherries; hid in a cup!)

I know not the end, do they survive;

In the den where I left them when I was five?

—Claire E. Bottum, Nov. 6, 1997

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