Helene Claudia Spencer was born July 16, 1875 in Dallas, Texas to Lewis Mortimer and Mary Julia “Mollie” (Siceluff) Spencer. She was the only child of her parents who moved to Oklahoma Territory, in the area that later became the town of Yukon, Oklahoma. Her uncle, Augustus Newton Spencer, who built the railroad in that area, along with her father, named and platted the town in 1891.
Claudia’s early education was in Yukon, and then she attended a boarding school before continuing her education at Monticello College, Godfrey Illinois, a two year college for young women.
On June 27, 1900 Claudia and Dr. Elmer Ellsworth Kirkpatrick were married in Yukon and according to a newspaper story “The wedding was probably the most elaborate social event that has ever occurred in Yukon and was anticipated with pleasure by the entire community.” After a month long honeymoon the couple resided in Oklahoma City where Dr. Kirkpatrick had established a dental office and dental supply business.
Claudia gave birth to their first child, Lewis Spencer, on May 15, 1901 and to their second son, Elmer Ellsworth Kirkpatrick, Jr. on Aug 17, 1905. Their third son John Elson was born February 13, 1908.
The lives of the Kirkpatrick family revolved a great deal around their church, the First Presbyterian, at Ninth and Robinson. In 1908 Claudia joined the church that her husband had been a member of since 1893, and she later became a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City.
Claudia and her husband purchased a cabin in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado in April 1910. Last that year, she gave birth in October of that year to their fourth son, Claude Siceluff. Eight years later, Mary Elizabeth, their only daughter and youngest child was born.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick and the children spent summers at their cabin, often traveling by train or with Dr. Kirkpatrick driving them. He would then return to Oklahoma City to his dental office and pick them up in late summer to drive them home. This routine continued until Spencer’s graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Thereafter, Claudia would return with the three remaining brothers and Mary until Elmer and John went to orientation at West Point in the summer of 1925.
After the death of her mother in 1928, Claudia moved her father to Oklahoma City to live with them and to care for him. L. M. Spencer continued to reside there until he died in 1931.
Throughout the years Claudia spent many hours writing letters to her four sons, and daughter. Many of these were written during her sons’ time away in military academies or in the military during peace and war.
Claudia asked Mary to return home in 1935 to help care for Dr. Kirkpatrick who was suffering from a heart ailment. Soon after his death in March 1936, Claudia sold the family home at 501 W. 13th Street in Oklahoma City and Mary returned to her brother’s home in New York.
With invitations from each of her children to spend time with them and their families throughout different parts of the United States, Claudia took up residence a few months at a time with them. She first traveled to California where Claude was assigned to the USS Cincinnati. She and Claude shared an apartment for a few months when he was not aboard ship.
Although her summers would still be spent at the family cabin in Colorado, Claudia often returned to Oklahoma City to stay with relatives before traveling to visit another one of her children. In the fall of 1939 she began staying with Dr. Kirkpatrick’s sister, Albertina in Oklahoma City.
In a 1941 letter written to her son John, while he was serving on the USS North Carolina, Claudia wrote that she was staying at the Huckins Hotel in Oklahoma City. She would often join the Army Ladies Club for sewing and attend the Oklahoma 1889ers Society meetings. Other activities included attending an art exhibit in the Municipal Auditorium and helping serve at a reception.
She continued living at the Huckins until March 1942, during World War II, when her daughter Mary and her daughter, Claudia, returned to Oklahoma City where they rented an apartment with Mrs. Kirkpatrick. The three of them went to the cabin for the summer, and then Claudia returned to Oklahoma City in the fall to live with Albert and Josephine Kirkpatrick, one of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s brothers.
Claudia soon started visiting her other children in 1943, staying for two months with Elmer and his family, and then returned to Oklahoma City until summer. She then went to the cabin before arriving in Ripley, Tennessee in August to be with daughter Mary who gave birth to her son in September. The following summer was once again spent in Colorado, with Mary and her children, while Mary’s husband, J. D. Moorman, was stationed in Italy during the war.
After J. D. died in December 1944, Claudia continued to live with Mary and the children until around 1947 when her daughter remarried. In October 1948 she began living with her son John and his wife Eleanor and daughter Joan in Oklahoma City but continued her summers at the cabin in Green Mountain Falls. In July of 1954 John’s family moved to a different home in Oklahoma City. Claudia was invited to live with Eleanor’s mother, Kathryn Blake in her residents, and their former home, at 301 N.W. 17th Street.
On July 29, 1957 Claudia suffered a stroke at her beloved summer home and later died in a Colorado Springs hospital. Her funeral took place in Oklahoma City with internment at Fairlawn Cemetery.