Clare C. McNiff, a career educator who retired from the Maryland State Department of Education, died May 8 of cancer at Encore at Turf Valley Assisted Living in Ellicott City.
She was 69.
Clare C. O'Rourke, the daughter of a bank investigator and an office manager, was born and raised in Providence, R.I. She was a 1959 graduate of St. Mary's Academy Bay View High School in East Providence.
Mrs. McNiff was a 1963 graduate of Rhode Island College where she earned a bachelor's degree in education. She did postgraduate work at Pennsylvania State University and earned a master's degree in 1978 in human resource management from the University of Utah.
She also completed the education development fellows program of the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington.
Mrs. McNiff had been an elementary school teacher in Barrington, R.I., where she taught French, and later at the Mannheim-American Elementary School in Germany. She also had held teaching positions in Columbus, Ga., Fort Knox, Ky., Chicopee, Mass., and Cranston, R.I.
Mrs. McNiff had held various positions with the state education department for 25 years, and at the time of her 2005 retirement, was accreditation section chief in the nonpublic school approval branch of the Division of Certification and Accreditation.
The longtime Columbia resident was a former president of the Maryland Association for Adult Community and Continuing Education, and in 1989 received the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Maryland Community Resource Development Association.
Mrs. McNiff was president of the Patuxent Toastmistress Club in Columbia and of the Blue Ridge Region of the International Toastmistress Club.
Mrs. McNiff was a communicant and lector at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Columbia, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Friday.
Surviving are her husband of 47 years, Col. John J. McNiff, a retired career Army officer; three daughters, Catherine Blair of Elkridge, Rosemary Ewart of Ellicott City and Anne Cantwell of Ashburn, Va.; a sister, Nancy Smith of Warwick, R.I.; and six grandchildren.