My neighbor Frederic Claussen passed away last week. He was 72 years old. A graduate of Nobles & Greenough, Harvard, and Boston University Law School, he was a flinty Yankee and the longest serving elected Republican in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving as Registrar of Deeds for Barnstable County for 39 years, only retiring from office last year.
He drove an ancient Buick, used to live in one of the oldest houses in the village, and loved animals. My daughter used to walk his collie Fancy for him while he was at work at the county complex in Barnstable Village. One day while I was working in my home office he came over with a copy of a story he had published about a lost dog he had adopted.
The grandson of US Congressman Charles Gifford (who was the author of the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution which changed the date of the presidential inauguration), Mr. Claussen lived near his grandfather’s house in the center of the village and will be forever thanked by generations of beachwalkers, shellfishermen and fishermen for granting a right of way to water by the town dock. His profile page on the State website lists his personal interests simply as “swimming and walking the beach.”
He was one of a breed of Massachusetts Republicans that used to personify Cape Cod politics through the 1970s. He was very good at his job – at least the voters thought so — and was helpful to me in 1980 when as a cub reporter I came to interview him about the role of county government on the Cape. My family and I will miss him, it’s sad to see a great presence in the neighborhood pass away.