Cover photo for Claire Biddison Barnett's Obituary
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1938 Claire 2024

Claire Biddison Barnett

July 13, 1938 — April 27, 2024

Greenville, SC

On Saturday, April 27, 2024, Claire Biddison Barnett passed away after her 5-year battle with cancer at The Woodlands at Furman in Greenville, SC. She is survived by her two daughters, Cheryl Cleveland- Kannianen married to David Kannianen and Dawn Ferguson married to David Ferguson, and her six grandchildren (Melinda Wilson, Davis Cleveland, Drew Ferguson, Josh Ferguson, Danae Ferguson, and Kyrie Kannianen) as well as 5 great-grandchildren (Judah Wilson, Laila Wilson, Rivers Ferguson, Henry Ferguson, and Elijah Cleveland). Claire was born July 13, 1938, in Baltimore, Maryland as the daughter of Zachariah Mason and Ethel Ensor Biddison. Though an only child, she cherished memories of family with cousins nearby and her grandparents who lived next door. Claire attended The Friends School of Baltimore from 6th grade through high school graduation in 1956.  After one year at the University of Delaware to study fashion design, Claire was led to move south to the Furman University Women’s College in Greenville, SC. She graduated from Furman in 1960 with a BA in Education. After college, she married Verlin Barnett, Jr. and soon settled in Columbia, SC where they raised their two daughters.

In the 1970’s, Claire began her devoted 23-year career at the Palmetto Baptist Medical Center. She was a licensed Professional Counselor by the South Carolina Department of Labor, a member of the Pastoral Counseling Association, and was accredited by the SC Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Professional Association, the International Theological Accountability Association, and the American Association of Pastoral Counseling. Claire later enrolled at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where in 1992 she received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance through the Education Department. Claire viewed counseling as a ministry that enables persons to discover and develop their God-given potential. Upon retirement in 1999, Claire moved to Greer, SC to be closer to several of her grandchildren. Claire was a member of Taylor’s First Baptist Church and has many fond memories of her neighbors and friends in the Brushy Meadows subdivision. Claire’s final move was to The Woodlands at Furman in the summer of 2018. Claire spent 4½ years at The Woodlands in Independent Living where she cherished her new friends, the wonderful staff, and her apartment’s view of the mountains. Beginning in January 2024, Claire’s health declined rapidly; in between hospital visits, Claire was lovingly cared for in her last months by the Woodlands Skilled Nursing Staff.

Claire’s life-long creative outlets included sewing/designing clothes and music. Claire played piano, was a member of the Furman Singers during college, and sang alto in several church choirs through the years. She was also excited to have completed a community college home decorating course. During retirement, Claire continued her creative endeavors by working part-time in Home Resources (a local fabric store) and sewing many a quilt for friends and family. Claire’s Christian faith was the dominant force throughout her life. She grew up in a Christian home and attended a Quaker school. During a summer high school retreat at Ridgecrest, NC, she entered a deep relationship with Jesus Christ as her personal friend. Her newfound devotion inspired her to advocate and then lead the implementation of a brand-new Training Union and Sunday night services for her home church congregation. Claire covered decisions with prayer throughout life and saw God in all the details of her life’s journey. And it was through prayer that she applied to Furman University and was placed on a waiting list. When a spot opened up one week before the start of class, Claire made the long train journey south alone with a single trunk of all her belongings to the unseen Furman campus to start her sophomore year. Her faith later sustained her through the pain of divorce and several medical ailments. As a professional, she approached her call to counselling through a biblical lens.

As a senior citizen, Claire was a dedicated prayer warrior and left behind a legacy of faith. Her favorite hymn was What a Friend,  We Have in Jesus and she drew comfort from Philippians 4:4-8. And she specifically had a message for her grandchildren: The Lord has been good to me and has taken care of me in many almost impossible situations and I’m so grateful.


Claire’s strong faith was evident to the end. As she entered Hospice, Claire never expressed fear but instead confidently repeated that she was ready to go home to the Lord. Most of her family was able to visit the last 2 days. And on Saturday, she waited for her daughter Cheryl to race down from Raleigh NC that afternoon. The last hour was spent with her daughters holding her hands and surrounded by children, spouses, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild, all sharing fond memories. Claire took her last breaths as her granddaughter Danae finished reading Psalms 23. God blessed us all with such beautiful closure.

A Memorial Service followed by a Celebration of Life will be held to honor Claire at the Woodlands on May 14th at 2 PM. Memorial gifts may be made to Miracle Hill Ministries in Claire’s honor through their website: https://miraclehill.org/give/
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Claire Biddison Barnett, please visit our flower store.

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