Claude B. Blais, 68, of Killington, a restaurateur and bon vivant, died of the ravages of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 22, 2021.
Claude was born in Newport, the third child of Benoit and Floride Blais. He grew up in the family home in Derby Line, traveling by bus during the school year to attend the Sacred Heart parochial schools in Newport. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1971. Claude joyously attended his 50th class reunion the week before he passed.
Following high school, he continued his formal education at the University of Vermont for two years before transferring to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where his love of the culinary arts found fertile ground. After graduation from CIA, Claude plied his profession in kitchens in the Adirondacks, Alaska, San Francisco and San Diego until his love of Vermont drew him to Killington.
Claude worked for a few years in the kitchen of the now-closed Alpine Inn, and then he ventured out to own and operate Claude’s Choices Restaurant, a sought-after eatery which flourished in Killington for more than 30 years. While Claude enjoyed and cherished all of the customers of his chef-operated restaurant, he was especially proud of the devoted following of “locals.” He was always a woodchuck-at-heart.
He often remarked, yet never bemoaned, that he was married to the restaurant, hence he leaves no surviving spouse. He was pre-deceased by both of his parents, and is survived by brother Maurice of San Diego, California, and his wife Deborah; brother Norman of Shelburne and his partner Dawn; and sister Lena of Jacksonville, Florida, and her husband Larry.
Claude was the favorite uncle to Wendi, Kyle, Jessica and David. He also leaves innumerable aunts, uncles, and cousins who are dispersed throughout the United States and Canada.
Claude’s amazingly rich and loyal “family” extends far beyond his blood relatives to include current and former Choices staff and patrons, fellow restaurant owners, and the denizen of Wobbly Lane and its environs.
Claude was blessed with a wide and varied circle of friends, many of whom took special care during the last year and a half of his life to assist him during the difficulties that attended his illness. Despite the debilitating effects of his condition, Claude never surrendered his infectious good spirits and winning smile to the cancer. He was a mentor to many and a friend to all.
A memorial service to commemorate Claude’s life will be held on Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. at the Summit Lodge and Resort in Killington. In lieu of flowers, it was Claude’s desire that his friends consider donations to the VNA and Hospice of the Southwest Region or the Rutland County Humane Society.