Funeral services and Mass of Christian Burial for Claudia Anne Cox, 78, of Davenport, will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 22, 2023, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Davenport. The Mass will be livestreamed and can be accessed by visiting St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church Facebook Page Burial will be in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Davenport. Visitation will be 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, Davenport, with a rosary at 3:30 p.m. that all are welcome to pray. There will be additional visitation 9:30-10:30 a.m. Monday in the gathering space at church. Memorials may be made to Conquer MG (Myasthenia Gravis), St. Paul the Apostle Parish or Assumption High School.
As her death brings together all those who loved her, we look back in wonder at her life. Claudia was many things, all wrapped up into one amazing woman who quietly transformed lives by her simple kindness. Like a diamond, she had many facets that made her shine.
Claudia was a daughter. She was born July 13, 1944, in Davenport, to Claude E. and Mary Catherine (McGinn) Townsend and named after her father.
Claudia was a sister. The firstborn in a family of six, she found herself often corralling the four rambunctious brothers that followed her—Mike, Bob, Steve and Tom—and caring for the baby of the family, Mary, born 12 years after her. Her siblings remembered her a “second mom” at times, instrumental in helping her mother run the household.
Claudia was a learner. After graduating from Assumption High School in 1962, she earned her registered nurse certification at Mercy School of Nursing in 1965. (She later earned a bachelor’s degree in special studies from St. Ambrose College in 1983.) She worked as a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital for many years in roles such as Staff Nurse, Quality Specialist and Assistant Director of Nursing. She retired from Genesis Medical Center in 2001. She then volunteered for many health-focused organizations, read numerous newspapers and books and never missed “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”
Claudia was a wife. She married Michael K. Cox, a teacher for 2-plus years at St. Paul the Apostle School and 33 years at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Moline, on May 30, 1966, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Davenport. They shared almost 57 years of memories together—54 in the same two-story yellow house in northwest Davenport. Though she occasionally bemoaned their accumulation of “stuff” over those decades, she never considered moving. (“They’ll have to take me out feet first,” she often said.)
Claudia was a mother and grandmother. She gave birth to a son, Kevin, and a daughter, Colleen, and modeled her values of empathy and kindness daily while tending to their scraped knees, homework-rattled brains and broken hearts as they grew. She then joyfully doted on her four grandchildren, following their adventures through cherished visits and lengthy phone calls.
Claudia was a healer. She not only tended to the illnesses of her patients during her 38-year nursing career, but also to the mental, emotional and spiritual wounds of the many people who confided in her. As a quietly compassionate counselor, her tools were not balms and bandages, but a gentle voice and a kind heart.
Claudia was a listener. She often joked that she “must be wearing my talk-to-me sign” because strangers would chat with her at grocery stores, in waiting rooms, you name it. She recognized the humanity in all those she met and made them feel seen and heard.
Claudia was a worshiper. A devout Catholic who attended Mass weekly, she was a 57-year member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish. She served as its parish nurse for 2½ years following her retirement from Genesis. She believed strongly in the power of prayer and often talked about “whipping up the prayers” for a friend or family member facing tough times. The day before she died, she spoke of going to heaven and looked forward to seeing her beloved friends Janet Thomas and Elaine Miller.
Claudia was a friend. She stayed close to former classmates, coworkers and neighbors throughout the Quad Cities, attending countless reunions and lunches as the decades went by. Those strong connections kept her spirits high even as her health waned.
Claudia was a traditionalist. The few times she would utter anything resembling a swear word, mouths would drop. She disliked war and horror movies or anything depicting violence. She believed in the power of “thank you” in written (in classy cursive) and spoken form, even earnestly saying it to her dedicated nurses in Genesis East Medical Center’s oncology/neurology unit in her final days.
Claudia was a traveler. Though she lived in Davenport her entire life, she ventured to Ireland four times. The Emerald Isle enthralled her, and when she returned home, her Irish eyes smiled at the sights and sounds of Irish-themed TV shows, Irish paintings and photographs, Irish music and performances. When her mobility became limited, she lived vicariously through the adventures of her family and friends as well as through globetrotting TV shows.
Claudia was a warrior. Though she never fired a shot in battle, she earned her stripes over 17 years combatting breast cancer, the autoimmune muscular disease myasthenia gravis and, just this year, acute myeloid leukemia. These trials battered her body but never her spirit. Just like when she was a nurse focusing on quality health care, she tried to help her doctors and nurses “find opportunities for improvement” (a favorite phrase) in the care and treatment of her illnesses so that patients in the future would benefit from her struggles. When she died, she was in the middle of assembling treat bags for the earthly angels who cared for her at the Genesis Infusion Center, ImpactLife Blood Center, the Genesis Cancer Care Institute and the Genesis West Laboratory.
All those things made Claudia what she was. And now, after her passing, Claudia is an inspiration to all those who had the profound privilege to know her and to love her. We now strive to carry on her legacy of love, compassion and empathy.
Those of us left to cherish her memory include her loving husband, Michael, Davenport; children and their spouses: Kevin (Anne Marie) Cox, Des Moines, Iowa and Colleen (Christopher) DeGrassi, Vienna, Virginia; grandchildren: Michael and Colin DeGrassi, and Andrew and Emily Cox; siblings: Mike (Mary Kay) Townsend, Iowa City, Bob (Cathy) Townsend, Sarasota, Florida, Steve (Sandy) Townsend, Moline, Tom Townsend, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Mary Deneen, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, whom she embraced once again on Tuesday when she entered the heavenly kingdom.