CLAIRE M. LAPLANTE ENGINEERING SCHOLARSHIP
A West Virginia Resident $50,000 Award
Welcome to the Claire M. LaPlante Engineering Scholarship – an award of $50,000.00 to one (1) West Virginia resident completing high school and attending West Virginia University’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering.
Claire Marie LaPlante
May 13, 2001 – February 26, 2020
Claire M. LaPlante was born early in the morning on May 13, 2001. From that moment forward she was the light of our lives. Elizabeth (my wife) and I treasured every moment going forward as our lives were now complete with joy and Claire’s presence.
Even from her earliest days she demonstrated a unique insight, whether it be with people, problems, reading or science. Claire was a reserved girl from a young age who listened to everything and “took it all in.” She rarely spoke without initially considering what she was about to say. Most importantly, she was kind beyond measure, with a huge heart. Her greatest fear was possibly hurting others with her actions or words.
Claire grew up in a home on a 120-acre piece of property with ample privacy. A location she would at times bemoan. She attended Trinity Christian for school in Morgantown, WV and was a tremendous fan of the school’s sports programs. She was involved in the school’s theatre program as a technical set manager, a role she loved doing. She enjoyed being involved and contributing.
She excelled in school with an ease of subject material I could never fathom. Her mother and I were immensely proud of her accomplishments and grades and her low-key kind approach to her many successes.
As a family we were inseparable and incredibly blessed. As the numerous pictures attest to, we were lucky enough to travel. From a young age she was always travelling, either by car or air. Some of Claire’s favorite destinations included Walt Disney World, and both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. Next of course was shell collecting on Captiva Island, and visiting Hilton Head Island. Claire and my wife would spend hours at the beach collecting shells and shark’s teeth, and just walking together, laughing and enjoying life. Amazing times. Amazing memories.
All through high school she showed tremendous abilities in math and the sciences. College time came and she was able to collect several scholarships. She elected to attend WVU. She began in the Statler College of Engineering and chose a dual major in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. She wanted to add a minor in business as well. She struggled between choosing Biomedical or the dual Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering, and eventually settled on the dual major. She really enjoyed the freedom and autonomy of college and excelled in that environment. She relished the challenge and loved college life and made numerous new friends.
She met her first serious boyfriend shortly after starting college, a relationship which grew throughout the first semester. He was a truly wonderful young man also majoring in Engineering. Thanksgiving of 2019 was a great time, and he was introduced to the extended family.
During the Finals Week in December Claire began to complain of fatigue and a sore throat. Initially treated as strep throat, her illness lingered with worsening fatigue and fever. She was eventually diagnosed with Mononucleosis shortly before Christmas. Her symptoms and fever progressed until Claire was admitted to the hospital the day after Christmas. She was then diagnosed with pneumonia, but this quickly progressed to involve being intubated and sent to the ICU. Within four days Claire became so sick and compromised that she failed the ventilator and was emergently placed on ECMO life support. Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygention is an advanced life support measure to pump her blood mechanically, oxygenate her blood externally and then return it to her body, bypassing her diseased lungs. Ten days later I had her life-flighted on ECMO to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she remained for an additional six weeks before succumbing to advanced lung damage and multi-organ failure. Her complicated ICU course and physical suffering are unimaginable. To watch your only daughter, the love of your life, the pinnacle of your dreams, slowly die is indescribable. The anxiety and helplessness of the situation is unbearable. Her remains were cremated four days later, and her ashes spread shortly thereafter.
I suffer daily in wonderful memories of what was my daughter Claire. All the wonderful experiences of life, school, marriage, children, and growing old will never be experienced by her. She has missed out on so much joy and life. Unfortunately, I also live in the horror of her many days in the ICU and what could have been for Claire and her life. My wife and daughter embraced a unique bond. A bond far exceeding the typical mother-daughter bond. They were almost one in the same.
A love that could never be reproduced.
I have created this website in Claire’s memory in the hopes people could visit and see who this remarkable person was: her beauty, her kindness, her promise in life. And visit the sadness of what was lost, what the world has lost.
While I will have a few remaining years left in this world, I want my daughter, Claire’s memory to hopefully live forever through her love of science and engineering. I am doing this with a yearly awarded Claire M. LaPlante Biomedical Engineering Scholarship at WVU. Please click on the tab above to see details on her Biomedical Engineering scholarship.
Sadly, her mother, Elizabeth, could not see this webpage or scholarship come to life as she died of a broken heart, taking her own life on June 19, 2020. Elizabeth’s great pain and loss of any reason to live was so consuming and overwhelming that she left this world in search of being with Claire. Elizabeth was the love of my life, my eternal soulmate, and can never be replaced. May she finally rest in peace and be free of pain.
My hope is that you spend some time on this website and gain a sense of who Claire was along with her wonder and love of life. She is immensely missed. Please keep her in your hearts and memories.
I love her so much.
Jon LaPlante (Claire’s Father)