Claudia Pacheco Stewart, 73, of Salem, Alabama, passed away on February 6, 2023 after a short battle with dementia. The loss of her beloved husband, James, was a devastating blow from which her heart and mind were unable to recover. Her family takes comfort in knowing that James and Claudia are together again. They loved each other until “The Twelfth of Never.”
Claudia, also affectionately known as Cricket, was born on July 2, 1949 to Joseph and Dorothy Pacheco in Acushnet, Massachusetts. She grew up in Phenix City, Alabama and graduated from Central High School in 1967.
After high school, Claudia met Ronny Staley from Hogansville, Georgia. They were married and welcomed a daughter in October of 1968. Ronny was killed in action in Vietnam in June of 1970, leaving Claudia a widow at twenty years old. After moving back to the Columbus area, she decided to become a beautician and began her career at Starmount Beauty Shop. She bought a house on Woodsy Way and worked hard as a single mother for the next four years.
In true love story fashion, she was asked by a friend to attend a gospel singing where she met James Stewart for the first time. The rest is history, and they married a mere six weeks later on April 27, 1974. She always said, “when you know, you know.” Their blended family began and they would have one child together.
Claudia was always the life of the party, with a big outgoing personality, a beautiful smile and so much spunk. She was always supportive of her husband’s gospel singing ministry, traveling the Southeast and sitting in the congregation singing along to every song. She was a devoted wife and always thought James hung the moon. They were the true loves of each other’s lives.
She was a strong, determined, and independent woman. She worked hard to provide for her family by whatever means necessary, at times working in the cotton mill while James was in Technical School. She would go on to own Claudia’s Beauty Salon, of which she was extremely proud. Her customers were more like friends, and she loved being a part of their lives. She missed them immeasurably when she retired, and still had some that she would cut at home because she just couldn’t say no.
Claudia was predeceased by Ronny Staley, spouse; her parents; Rubye Staley, mother-in-law; Elvin Stewart, father-in-law; Connie Stewart, mother-in-law; and her faithful loving husband of 48 years, James Wilson Stewart. She is survived by daughters Leigh Staley Prickett (Glenn) of Opelika; Lynn Stewart Rhodes (Jay) of Decatur, AL; Nikki Stewart Chreene (Christy) of Columbus; son Lee Stewart (Katie) of Macon, GA; brother, Kenny Pacheco of Phenix City; grandchildren Hannah Prickett Rivers, Caleb Prickett, Logan Prickett Taylor, Tatum McReynolds, Ashley Rhodes Johnson, Chay Rhodes, Alivia Rhodes Ellsworth, Jessica Stewart, Justin Stewart and Kenleigh Brown; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2:00 pm (EST) on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 in the Chapel of Vance Brooks Funeral Home, 3738 US HWY 431 N, Phenix City, AL 36867 with Rev. Randy Comer officiating. Interment will follow at Lakeview Cemetery. The family will receive friends 2 hours prior to the service time at the funeral home.