Barbara Garretson

Obituary of Barbara Garretson

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Barbara Clayton Grahn Garretson, 89, a life-long Princeton resident, died peacefully at home on April 21. Born in Tenafly, New Jersey on October 20, 1924 to John Amiel Grahn and Belle Clayton Grahn, she graduated from Princeton High School in 1942 and Wellesley College in 1946. In 1952 she married Everett B. Garretson, her lifetime partner in marriage and in business as joint proprietors of H.P Clayton, Inc., a landmark women's department store on Palmer Square in Princeton. Clayton's was a multigenerational business founded in 1915 by her grandfather Henry P. Clayton. The store was managed for thirty years by her mother Belle, and in the early 1960's through the 1980's, expanded by Barbara and Everett into the largest family-operated retail business in Princeton. They sold the store in 1989 and thereafter enjoyed retirement, independent living, and continuing participation in the community. Her affiliations included The Woman's College Club of Princeton, Soroptimist International, The English-Speaking Union, The Present Day Club, The Nassau Club, The Wellesley College Club, The Princeton YWCA, and the Princeton Women's Investment Club. For decades she was a dedicated volunteer at the annual Wellesley Antique Show and Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale in Princeton. She was a member of Nassau Presbyterian Church, and represented the fourth generation of Claytons with membership at Trinity Episcopal Church. Barbara took particular pride in being an independent businesswoman. Like her mother Belle before her, through her position as a leading retailer she socialized across the entire fabric of the community. There were few employees and customers in whom she did not take a personal interest. She was an avid tennis player, swimmer, gardener, bridge player, knitter, and needle worker. She and her husband enjoyed special trips together to England, Scotland, Egypt, China and Italy. Some of her fondest travel memories were of summers with her family on Martha's Vineyard and visits to Colonial Williamsburg. She is predeceased by Everett Garretson, her husband of 59 years, and by half-sisters and half-brothers Jenny, Anna, Ruth, Amiel, Harold, and Leslie Grahn. Close living contemporary relatives include Ruth and Wesley Davis of Exeter, NH and Anene and Arnie Seymour-Jones of Harrington Park, NJ. She is survived by sons David Clayton Garretson and John Everett Garretson, David's wife Silvia Garretson, John's wife LaRae Raine Garretson, and a granddaughter Lisa Sendrow. A memorial service followed by lunch will be held at 12PM on Saturday May 17 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 33 Mercer Street in Princeton. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to SAVE Animal Shelter of Princeton, 900 Herrontown Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, or to the charity of your choice. Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
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