Clare Hansen Zach

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