Claire Cullen Earley Photo

Claire Cullen Earley passed away peacefully on March 28th, Palm Sunday, in the presence of her loved ones and her care team at the San Carlos Elms. She leaves a large and lasting legacy in the town of San Carlos, in the many lives she touched through her four sons and their families and in a seemingly endless circle of friends. She was the hub of a myriad of familial, social, professional and philanthropic relationships.

Claire was preceded in death by her husband, Martin Vincent Earley of Floral Park NY, in 1987. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Colonel William Joseph Cullen (‘The Colonel’) and Alice Cunningham Cullen (affectionately known as ‘BDA’ or Big Deal Alice) of Larchmont NY.

Claire is survived by her four sons: Kevin (Catherine) of Minneapolis, Brian (Amy) of San Carlos, Tim (Jen) of San Francisco and Pat (Helene) of San Carlos. Her special legacy includes her 11 beloved grandchildren: Brennan, Shane, Graham (Emma), Mara, Liam, Shannon, Grace, Jack, Linnea, Finn and Nessa. She is also survived by her sister Carole Keating (‘Schatzi’) of Darien CT and her family.

Claire and Marty moved to San Carlos in 1971 which she would call home until her passing. She immersed herself in her new community and numerous social circles with a passion and ferocity which reflected her Irish heritage and New York upbringing.

She was widowed at a young age and left with four sons, ranging in age from 15 to 22, yet managed through force of will to see them all through high school, college and on to adulthood, marriage and beyond. Even though she had no daughters of her own, she had unique relationships with her sons’ wives and her granddaughters. Her experience raising four sons influenced her relationships with her grandsons.

She was a true matriarch and personified tough love.

Mrs. Earley was raised in Manhattan and Larchmont, NY. After earning her college degree in Mathematics from Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, she returned to New York to begin her professional career as a computer programmer at Union Carbide in Manhattan, where she would later meet her husband Marty. Together, they would start a family and begin their migration West, after a brief stop in New Orleans, to settle in San Carlos.

After spending a period of time as a homemaker, her professional ambitions returned in a career as a Real Estate professional. For over 40 years, her success in Real Estate reflected her ability to promote the community she loved. Her involvement with the Realtor community included serving as President of The San Mateo County Association of Realtors, as Director of the California Association of Realtors and as Federal Political Coordinator for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

The most important thing in life to her was family. She was passionate about family gatherings, holidays, vacations and reunions. In her mind, participation in these events was mandatory. Deeply rooted in her convictions, when her mind was made up, to change it required an act of God. Her loyalties and generosity to her family, friends, St. Charles parish community, social circles, San Carlos Rotary and various other organizations and institutions were unmistakable and unwavering. Claire loved events such as 49er games, the San Carlos Chicken’s Ball, Concerts at the Park, and St Charles Fall Festivals. Invitations to events and fundraisers were rarely turned down. She embodied a positive ‘Can Do’ attitude, yet perhaps more importantly a ‘why the hell wouldn’t you’ mindset. Relentless, competitive and inclusive, a better example of a fiery redhead could not be found.

The family plans to have a Catholic Funeral service on May 8th at St. Charles church in San Carlos subject to San Mateo County Department of Health’s guidance for acceptable and safe social gatherings. For any who wish to participate, there will information available through Crippen & Flynn Carlmont ( regarding details leading up to services. Claire will be laid to rest with her husband Marty at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, CA.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests Memorial Donations in her honor be made to Rosemont College ( or San Carlos Rotary (

Her parting wish would be to encourage anyone and everyone to create or participate in any opportunity to make a memory for someone important in your life.

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