Revere residents joined many others in filling to capacity Temple Emmanuel in Chelsea Monday for the funeral services of Richard I. Clayman, a noted local attorney who died on May 1. He was 65.
The gathering was so immense that people had to stand two deep in the aisles and along the interior walls of the temple while others listened to the service from outside the main sanctuary. The area outside the temple was closed to vehicular traffic.
A Chelsea historian called it one of the most impressive funeral observances he had seen in the city’s modern history. Mr. Clayman was a legendary and beloved figure in Chelsea and served on the School Committee and Board of Aldermen. He had a distinguished career as an attorney and served as president of Temple Emmanuel. He was a generous supporter of many organizations and causes. Mr. Clayman was also well known and admired in Revere where he has lived for the past 14 years, and throughout Greater Boston and the North Shore.
Mr. Clayman was a frequent visitor to the Bagel Bin on Shirley Avenue where the handsome and always impeccably dressed attorney would meet socially with friends who thoroughly enjoyed his company, captivated by his magnetic personality and warmth. Mr. Clayman, a superb orator who had a number of high profile cases during his career in the legal profession, liked to describe others as having “duende” but it was he who owned it best.
Mr. Clayman also joined his brother, Stephen, in a very successful real estate business that included many properties in Revere. Together the brothers were known for their generosity and acts of kindness, always done in a quiet, unassuming manner.
Matching the awesome memorial tribute to this great man who touched so many lives in a positive way, were the impressive eulogies delivered by Mr. Clayman’s daughters, attorneys Katie Clayman Huggard and Erica Colombo, who truly rose to the occasion in speaking about the love they had for their father while exhibiting their own intellect, eloquence and humor in separate, heartfelt speeches.
Colombo recalled being on a field trip at the Chelsea Police station, and Mr. Clayman, who would later become her father, speaking to her among her group of first grade classmates.
“What I’ll never forget is how he made me feel uniquely special. I was the most important kid in the room. I remember thinking he was such a big shot in his beautiful suit and tie and wow, he’s talking to me. He knows me.
“What I’ve fully come to realize is that everyone feels this way when they are with Richard. I would be willing to bet that each and every person sitting here this morning feels as though they are Richard’s favorite – and that’s because he had a way of making people feel they are the most special.”
Colombo praised her father for the wise counsel he provided in her choice of career as an attorney. “I’ve always looked up to Richard as an amazing attorney who just ‘got it.’ And I always strive to be the kind of lawyer who just ‘gets it,’ too. Therefore I’ve patterned myself after him. Being with him everyday [at the law offices] was a precious gift. He was not only my life coach but my mentor, ever ready with sound advice and assistance.”
Colombo also recalled the strong, vibrant and loving relationship that Richard shared with her mother, Deborah Clayman, who was a vital source of strength, support and encouragement in their unbreakable friendship.
“I know one of the things that Richard admired most about my mother is her incredible strength. He revered her, he treasured her, he was immersed in her. All he ever wanted was for her to be happy. He’d give her the world if he could’ve. He brought so much love into her life that could never be expressed in words.”
Katie Clayman Huggard, a leader with a charismatic presence in the mold of her father and who was president of her Swampscott High School class, thanked the assemblage for its tremendous outpouring of affection and support for the family.
“On behalf of our entire family and my beloved dad, I want to thank everyone for being here. Looking at all of you, I am so touched and your presence is such a tribute to my wonderful dad.”
She said that her father enjoyed the simple things in life. “As recently as last week, he talked about how he was absolute happiest sitting in his backyard with Deborah, surrounded by family and friends. He loved nothing more than having breakfast and lunch with his brother Stevie every single day for the past 35 years. He loved having Erica with him. He was passionate about his family. He extended this passion to his friends, most of whom he considered family.”
Clayman Huggard recalled how her father was proud to say he was from Chelsea.
“Richie Clayman was Chelsea. He was passionate about this city. He loved the people in this city. He never forgot his roots and he was so proud of being from Chelsea. He helped people. His life was about helping people.”
She said her father left an indelible mark. “He lived a life to be proud of. He worked so hard to teach me lessons and values that were important to him.”
Clayman Huggard noted that each year her father would send her a “quote unquote serious letter.”
“The letter would speak of his love and support of me and in his own way, outline important lessons to take with me that year,” she said. “Every single letter he told me to be kind to people, all people. Treat them with respect and dignity. That is his legacy. The serious letter helped teach these lessons but also, I learned them by his example.”
In closing, the proud daughter said, “Dad, we will celebrate you today. We thank you for everything you have given us. We are better people having lived in your presence. I’ve experienced no greater loss in my life. I will miss him every moment of every day. I know so many of you feel this same emptiness and sadness in your heart but Richie Clayman was larger than life and he will live on through all of us.”
Deborah and Richard Clayman were married in October, 2005. They were a couple for 22 years.
“They were 22 wonderful, wonderful years, the best years of my life,” Deborah Clayman said. “He was the best husband, the best father, the best friend, the same thing that everyone else knows about Richard: there’ll never be another Richard Clayman ever, and he gave me the best 22 years of my life.”