Nashville style icon, philanthropist Clare Armistead remembered

Clare Armistead
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 20:18:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — She was a Nashville-style icon and a philanthropist. The visitation for Clare Armistead took place Friday night at the Belle Meade Country Club. Armistead asked for her services to be merely called a Going Away Party.

Next to Printers Alley is a series of pictures on the side of a building, telling part of Armistead's story. Those pictures were taken by international photographer Philip Holsinger.

"That is my good friend, Clare Armistead," Holsinger smiled, pointing to a portrait showing Armistead posed next to a window. "Clare embodies the old Nashville and those old manners."

NewsChannel 5 first met Holsinger at Chauvet Arts in June where his We Are Nashville series captured all different kinds of people of Nashville. Armistead was one of his photo subjects. Holsinger had never met a socialite.

"I expected her to be kinda a closed door," he said. "She was anything but. When I met Clare, she was about to turn 90. She was curious. She couldn't meet enough people."

Armistead was a board member for many nonprofits including Alive Hospice and the Tennessee State Museum. She was a founder of Friends of Warner Parks.

"She organized people and brought people into causes," said Holsinger.

"This is a picture of the Swan Ball," he continued, pointing to another picture on the building. "Clare co-founded it. That's the ticket to get in Nashville, a hard ticket to get."

Holsinger said, all the while, Armistead did her work with true style and class.

"One night, I showed up to pick up Clare," he remembered. "She was in a regal dress. She said, 'sugar, am I overdressed?' I said, 'Clare, am I underdressed?' 'Just a little.' Her sense of fashion came from a sense of respect and honor."

Unlike Clare, I've been everywhere, like the Johnny Cash song," said Holsinger, referring to what some might call an unlikely friendship. "Unlike Clare, who's been stable in one place, my life's been going from one unstable place to another."

Still, Holsinger said his photography and Armistead's philanthropy had that same goal, to benefit people.

Armistead died last month after living with cancer.

"It was just sorta like she walked off stage," Holsinger said. "We had good conversations, the kind of conversations friends have. Helpful conversations. She just deeply, deeply cared for people. She protected people. She was a real public servant. Clare is just open and kind and loving. Clare just took me in."