Claudia Nell Imwalle/Gish/Crager/Zacharias passed away on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, in Houston, Texas. The night before she died, she made a delicious chocolate cake that she enjoyed for breakfast and lunch the next day! Claudia was a brilliant thinker, a gifted teacher, and a lifelong learner.
Claudia earned her B.A. in English from the University of California/Berkeley and her M.A. and Ed. D. from the University of Houston/Central Campus. She was certified as a psychologist by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in 1976. At UC Berkeley, Claudia was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and at UH Central she was a member of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. Claudia was a founder of the Texas Psychological Foundation, a longtime member and past President of the Houston Psychological Association, and she regularly presented talks at places like the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and the Jung Center of Houston. She proudly practiced psychology as Dr. Claudia Gish in Houston for over 30 years, officing mainly at The Jung Center and at the Park Plaza Professional Building. She was a strong, beautiful woman who was a groundbreaker and a wise counselor, full of curiosity and a deep love for her family.
Claudia was born in King City, California and was raised in Pacific Grove, Monterey, Vallejo, and Ukiah, California. She met her first husband, Theodore Gish, at UC/Berkeley, a fellow Californian who was born and raised in Riverside. They married in 1956 and a few years later, Claudia gave birth to their first child, Geoffrey, in Walnut Creek, California. Shortly after that, she and Ted moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan for Ted to teach at the University of Michigan and for Claudia to teach elementary school and to tutor neighborhood children. It was there in Ann Arbor that their second child, Sarah, was born.
One snowy night, Claudia and Ted went to see the pre-Broadway presentation of “Night of the Iguana” in Detroit, which was attended by its author Tennessee Williams and was starring Bette Davis. On the way home, their baby blue convertible VW bug’s roof began chipping off due to the ice. The two sun-loving Californians immediately desired a warmer climate – which they discovered in 1963 in Houston, Texas. Ted was offered a position as an assistant German professor at the University of Houston and Claudia began teaching at elementary schools and also at San Jacinto College.
Although she once said “We didn’t mean to stop in Texas, we were on our way back to California!”, Houston was Claudia’s home for 56 years and she absolutely loved it. While there, she had many adventures and many loves. She retired several years ago and was so happy to have more time to travel, cook, watch movies, learn about art and other interesting topics, read books and meet up with her longtime book club, and to spend time with friends and family. Claudia determinedly voted in the 2018 midterm elections and was a lifelong Democrat. She especially enjoyed her beautiful home in Southampton, the neighborhood in which she raised her children, and where she died peacefully.
She is survived by her daughter Sarah Gish and husband Stuart Buchanan; their children Alexander and Matthew; her sister Carol Imwalle and husband Randy Berlin; Carol’s children Gwendolyn and Katie and their families; her widowed daughter-in-law Juanita Page Gish; and her husband Keith Zacharias, from whom she was separated at the time of her death. She is predeceased by her son Geoffrey Gish and her former husbands Theodore Gish and Jay Crager.
There will be a funeral service at Bradshaw Carter Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 27 at 11 am, which will be preceded by mingling at 10 am and followed by a light lunch at noon.
Donations in Claudia’s honor may be made at www.JungHouston.org/donatebeta