By Jen Bakken
MONTROSE, MN During a vacation just after high school, Sharon Clare met her future husband, and two years later, in 1964, she left Minnesota to make her home in the Bahamas.
At a time when multicultural marriages weren’t common place, Clare admits her family was supportive.
As her three boys, Darrel, Dionn, and Damon grew older, she wanted them to attend school in Delano, where her parents, Russell and Gladys Knutson, lived.
“It was important to me for them to go to a good school in a nice, small town,” Clare said. “I lived in Delano during their school year and would then go back to the Bahamas. I’ve been back and forth for over 40 years.”
Though leaving behind generally year-round good weather was difficult for Clare, she moved to Montrose in 2002. The desire to be near her grandsons, Dominique and Darius Clare, and watch them participate in Delano sports, overshadowed her dislike of the Minnesota winters.
“I hate it being cold,” she said. “It’s so warm there and I miss all of my Bahama friends, but I still have my house there so I go back twice a year.”
With all of Clare’s traveling back and forth between Montrose and the Bahamas, she has had many jobs including working for IBM in data processing for 10 years, and working in banking in foreign exchange or mutual funds.
Now retired, she enjoys being a grandmother to six grandchildren.
The love she has for her grandchildren can be witnessed when she is cheering for her grandsons during their sporting events, and baby sitting her 1-year-old grandson, Davin.
“All their names starting with ‘D’ is on purpose, but it does make you stutter sometimes,” she laughed. “They are all such nice kids. I just love them, and I’m very proud. They are great in sports, and academically Delano Schools are good, so they are, too.”
When she isn’t attending a sporting event, Clare spends time reading whatever she can get her hands on, gardening, or doing puzzles, and though she’d love to play cards, she admits she doesn’t know many people in this area.
Back in the Bahamas, Clare and her ex-husband, Alfred (Junior), who is a Bahamian seaman, own a tour boat. They provide sightseeing tours, trips to area beaches, and also ferry travelers back and forth between Paradise Island and Nassau.
During her years of living in the Bahamas, she discovered she loved Calipso music and “booze cruises.”
These cruises involve paying to ride a three-decker boat and dock out in the water, she explained. Once out there, the riders enjoy food, drinks, good friends, and fun.
Clare has been through two hurricanes. She admits it was hard for her initially to get comfortable living without a basement, because she was used to running to the lower level during Minnesota storms.
“There were lots of hurricanes there, but there were two really big ones I remember,” Clare recalled. “One was about nine years ago, the other five years before that.
“They knocked down all of my trees, damaged the second floor roof. Some people go to shelters, but I just hunkered down in my house. It’s like storms here you just never know what to expect they are all scary.”
As for the future, Clare plans to continue splitting her time between Montrose and the Bahamas.
“Oh, I’ll just play it by ear,” she said. “You know there’s so many things I’ve been through I guess I could write a book, but we don’t need it all in the paper . . . that’s for sure.”