Mary Claudia Pearson

    Mary Claudia (Bavis) Pearson peacefully passed from this life on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in her Lander, WY. home surrounded by loving friends, devoted caregivers and her beloved corgi Howdy. She was 64.

    Claudia was born November 25, 1955 to William Stephen and Mary Claire (Appleby) Bavis in Washington D. C. At the time of her birth Claudia’s father worked for the Foreign Service (CIA) stationed in Nairobi, Kenya. Claudia was born while the family was in the States for home leave but made the epic voyage to Kenya at the age of 3 months. According to her mother her first words were in Swahili taught to her by her beautiful Kikuyu nanny Rachel. Claudia’s family next traveled to Tehran, Iran, where they lived for two years and Claudia attended a Persian nursery school. The family eventually returned to the States and settled in Maryland where Claudia attended school. In 1973 Claudia graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland and went on to nearby Montgomery Jr. College having no idea of what she wanted to pursue in life.

    That all changed once Claudia found information about the National Outdoor Leadership School. Ready for adventure and an opportunity to head west she took her first wilderness course in 1974, at the Rocky Mountain Branch. Obviously smitten with this experience she found her career path and transferred to the University of Colorado to procure a degree in outdoor education. Upon graduation in 1978 from CU Claudia was hired by NOLS and worked in the rations department where she excelled at organization, nutrition and managing the myriads of food to feed hungry students out in the field.

    Claudia edited the NOLS COOKERY (now in it’s 7th edition) the mainstay for cooking in the backcountry. Every recipe was tested in the Gourmet Gulch kitchen and it was Claudia’s recipe for “Gulch Bites” that got high marks from students and staff for being both tasty and great body fuel.

    Most students will remember this petite, perky, curly-headed fireball who was always in bright colored attire with her luminescent blue-green eyes giving the “Gulch Talk” and then would proceed to turn up the volume of the music and get the place into high gear as they bagged their rations. She had an incredible energy that was contagious.

    After 40 years and due to complications associated with her battle with cancer Claudia retired from her career with NOLS.

    In the words of NOLS president Terri Watson:
    “It would be impossible to capture the breadth of Claudia’s impact on thousands of NOLS students, staff, instructors and NOLS—worldwide community members___but let it suffice to say she was an icon and true original.”

    Claudia was an avid reader who loved history and anything to do with the west and the stories behind the establishment of old ranches and settlements but her main passion in this life was her love of horses. Claudia learned to ride at the age of 10 taking lessons on a shetland pony named Graybaby in Maryland. It wasn’t until she moved to Wyoming and bought her first horse, Shiloh that she took this new adventure to heart.

    She pursued horsemanship and became not only a talented rider but also a first class trainer. She mentored several young riders and was a wonderful instructor.

    Claudia was immersed in Eventing…an equestrian event where the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping are combined in a competition format. Throughout her life here in Lander Claudia purchased many off-the-track Thoroughbred horses and gave them a new career as “event” horses. Anyone who has a “Claudia” trained horse knows and realizes what an exceptional foundation they have. The sport of Eventing took Claudia all over Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho and South Dakota where she won many championships and friendships along the way. She is most beloved and well remembered in the horse community.

    Claudia loved all things physical: running, biking, hiking, riding, working out at the gym…whatever she could do to challenge herself. Even after her cancer diagnosis she continued to maintain a high level of fitness and an unparalleled schedule of activity that amazed all of her doctors.

    Claudia will be remembered for her spunk, smile and sincerity. You were immersed in her light and energy when you were with her. She was such a force…not to be reckoned with but one to observe, appreciate and love.

    Claudia was preceded in death by her father William Stephen Davis.

    Claudia is survived by her mother Mary Claire Bavis, siblings Deb (Sam) Barough of Yarmouth, ME, Kit (Bett )Bavis of Middletown, MD, Steve (Anne) Bavis of Germantown, MD, nieces and nephew Caitlin Bavis, Washington D.C., Erin Lake, Boston, MA, Emily Shultz, Severna Park, MD and Luke Kammann, Santa Cruz, CA.

    A special thanks goes to Frontier Home Health and Hospice and especially to the Anam Cara Caregiving team who provided dedicated, detailed and loving care to Claudia in the last few months.

    Claudia has been cremated and her remains will be interred at Mt Hope Cemetery in Lander, Wyoming.

    A celebration of her life will be held later in 2021 when we can all gather outside and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the area that she loved so well.

    Please… in Claudia’s memory dress in your brightest attire…walk your dog, ride your bike, gallop your horse , run uphill or do the most amazing workout. Get out there and know she cherished all of your friendships and sends her love from above.

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