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Elaine Clearfield

Elaine ClearfieldElaine Clearfield, longtime Denver writer, community activist and educator, passed away at Shalom Park on Jan. 25, 2010. Rabbi Jay TelRav officiated at funeral services held Jan. 29 at Temple Sinai with interment at Emanuel Cemetery. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.

A native of Omaha, Mrs. Clearfield was born May 22, 1919 and spent much of her childhood in Lincoln, Neb. where her father ran a delicatessen. She earned a degree in journalism from the University of Iowa.

After working in Chicago in freelance journalism and as an advertising copywriter for the Sears and Spiegel companies, she married William Clearfield in that city in 1948. The couple moved to Denver shortly thereafter.


In Denver, Mrs. Clearfield worked as a freelance journalist, penning articles for the Intermountain Jewish News and other publications. She often expressed how much she valued her working relationship with the late Max Goldberg, the IJN publisher at that time.


She earned her teacher’s certification from Colorado Women’s College and subsequently taught English and journalism at Thomas Jefferson High School and as a substitute teacher for Denver Public Schools for several years. She also taught at the Temple Emanuel religious school.

A lifelong writer, Mrs. Clearfield published three books during her lifetime: ABC in Colorado, a children’s book; Our Colorado Immortals in Stained Glass, which detailed the people whose images are preserved in stained glass at the Colorado State Capitol; and . . .  but you’re different, a family history and memoir.

A woman of remarkable energy and many interests, Mrs. Clearfield was also a tireless advocate of the developmentally disabled, an inspiration she drew from the experiences of her daughter Paula.

Dissatisfied with the level of Jewish community support for the developmentally disabled, Mrs. Clearfield was instrumental in helping found Denver’s Jewish Group Home and other programs to support the handicapped. She detailed her beliefs as one of five mothers of handicapped children in an award-winning 1984 IJN feature article entitled, “Where Motherhood and Courage Meet.”

Her activism led Mrs. Clearfield to become active with the Denver Association of Retarded Citizens, of which she eventually served as president.

In more recent years, she was instrumental in having an East Denver city park named in honor of Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the founder of National Jewish Hospital. Mrs. Clearfield was one of the keynote speakers when the park was dedicated in 1993.

A longtime member of Temple Sinai, Mrs. Clearfield was preceded in death by her husband William in 1992.

Mrs. Clearfield was the mother of Anita Clearfield (Geoffrey Leighton) of Durham, Maine; Boris Donescu of Aurora; and Paula Clearfield of Brunswick, Maine; the sister of Larry Fox of Encino, Calif. and Sally (Ben) Litvak of Sacramento, Calif.; and the grandmother of Shelby Clearfield Leighton of Washington, DC.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Abe Abrams Fund of Seniors, Inc. or the Denver Assn. for Retarded Citizens.

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