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Clare Hansen Zach

July 26, 1932 - August 26, 2022


Obituary For Clare Hansen Zach

Clare said she did not want to live longer than 80 years old. She made it to 90, out-stubborning not only dementia, but also herself. The latter was no small feat.

The youngest of Judge Lambert and Agnes Hansen’s four children, she established her feisty personality trying to get a word in edgewise during the nightly family meal in Sparta, Wisconsin. The Hansen’s were never accused of being un-opinionated. Clare was not one to follow established norms. At an early age, she and her partner in crime knocked on doors of neighborhood houses they liked and invited themselves in for a tour, much to the later mortification of Agnes. Clare lasted two years at Sparta Senior High School, at which point she was sent to St. Mary’s boarding school in Prairie du Chien when her behavior failed to comport with that expected of the youngest daughter of the sitting county magistrate.

At her core, Clare was a caring and empathetic soul, befitting her career in nursing. She graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1953, whereupon she left the state, first for a stint at the University of Minnesota and then to Hawaii (before statehood) with two of her nursing buddies. There she cared for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, an experience she cherished and reminisced about even after Alzheimer’s took away much of her past.

She returned to Madison to marry Donald “Skip” Zach, another youngest child and a lefthander. They made quite a personality pair and were life partners for 48 years.

Clare continued nursing at Madison General until the emotional drain of caring for her patients wore her out. Which was fortuitous timing, because Skip had just opened the Avenue Bar and they and Paul spent 40 great, but hard, years creating a magical place for Madison.

Clare had three children, Steve and Paul, and Peter who gave her one precious week. Clare was a dedicated mom and attended everything her sons were ever in and gave them all they needed in life. She was an accomplished pianist, and because she was never accused of having a placid temperament, her sons took heed to notice her play list when they got home. The “Moonlight Sonata” meant smooth sailing and a calm evening. Beware Rachmaninoff.

During the Avenue Bar years, Skip and Clare could be seen at 5:00 p.m. at the end of the bar having a drink together, their nightly ritual. It is a pleasant thought that they are enjoying their heavenly spirits together again.

In addition to her parents, Skip, and Peter, mom was preceded in death by a sister who died in infancy (Theresa Rose) her siblings Charles (Mary Nell), Miriam (Dave), and Rita (Bill), her sister-in-law Mona (Dave) Valentine and brother-in-law Wayne. She is survived by her sons Steven (Patty) and Paul (Sharri), sister-in-law Delores Zach, and many nieces and nephews, including her goddaughter Mayo Ewanowski. Clare loved her grandchildren very much, Caitlin (Brandon) Rutz, Bridget (Brian) Finnel, and Maureen Zach (Fred Montero). COVID robbed her of the opportunity to get to know her great-grandchildren Ellowyn and Gideon Finnel, and Magnolia and August Rutz.

Clare was blessed to have an amazing team of caring and dedicated professionals at All Saints walk with her through her last five years. They cared for her as if she were their mother and for that the family is forever grateful.

The family held a Mass and burial with immediate family. Memorials in Clare’s name can be made to All Saints Memory Care, 8210 Highview Drive, Madison, WI 53719.

As Alzheimer’s took its toll on Clare’s memory and functioning, she always loved to hear that she was rated as the world’s best mom. She still is. Say hello to Pal. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
5701 Odana Road

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  • 09/13/2022

    We first knew Clare and Skip through the Avenue Bar. When they moved into our Hill Farms neighborhood, it was a pleasure to see and visit with them more often. We hope that your memories bring you comfort and peace. Take care. ~ Ramona and Joe Keyes

  • 08/30/2022

    To the entire family ofClare Zach. My deepest sympathies to all of you. Clare and Skip were incredible people. We had so many great times at the Avenue. We always had a blast when would all travel to away Badger football games . Enjoying another " Tweaker retreat" . You knew exactly where you stood with Clare. I know sometimes she would roll her eyes at my shenanigans but she was laughing hard on the inside. Skip and Clare were pillars of the community in Oregon. And Nobody ran a finer Bar and restaurant then Skip ,Clare and Paul. I was very lucky to know her and I am sad to hear of her passing. May it be of some comfort to you that she was loved and respected by so many of us. Sincerely , Jim Snow.

  • 08/29/2022

    To the Zach Family, My late husband Brad Liddle and I spent many fun and interesting times with Clare and Skip, prior to his death, both here and in Florida. Barb and Jon Lindwall were usually part of the good times as well. I greatly treasure those memories of Clare. She was a good soul and I know she will rest in peace. Suzanne Liddle

  • 08/29/2022

    My prayers are with you Steve and Paul. So sorry for your loss. Your Mom was a great woman and very good to me the years I worked for your Mom and Dad. Buddha says "Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. " Appropriate words for your Mom.

  • 08/28/2022

    Clare, we're raising a glass of scotch and of gin to you, Skip, and the family tonight. You were the glue that held those wild men together for all those years. We hope you and Skip are having another laugh and another cocktail tonight in memory of your wonderful life together. Michael Bo May and Briony Foy

  • 08/28/2022

    Sorry for your loss,all of you are in our hearts and prayers.The Avenue Bar lives on because off all the memories we have shared with one another.Skip and Claire were Loved by many..There were so many memories to share,but a few of them were when our daughter katie would go with her dad to the avenue and help set tables or do anything else they needed her to do. Dan and Pam James

  • 08/28/2022

    Our thoughts are with you, Steve and Paul. What a beautifully written tribute to a woman who deserved every word. Peace. Dave and Nancy Halford

  • 08/27/2022

    Claire Zach was one of our absolute favorite Oregon people! She was caring, loving, always concerned — and feisty. Her sincerity topped it all off. Our family sends ((hugs)) and deep love to the Steve and Paul and their families who were blessed to have her for 90 years. She brought great joy to our kids and to us. May your memories carry you and help you heal through your grief —you have many. What a blessing. The Dettwilers

  • 08/27/2022

    ...Scattered like flowers o' er thy life's bright way May hopes fulfilled and sweetest joys be thine linking with fragrance chain each golden day. ~Always Zach

  • 08/27/2022

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what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

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