Obituary: Clarence Joseph Corcoran

Great-grandfather, US Navy veteran, upholsterer, devout Catholic

Clarence (“Corky” or ”Bud”) Joseph Corcoran died September 12, 2017 at the age of 96.

He was born October 13, 1920 to Timothy James and Charlotte Bernadine Cunningham Corcoran in Donnelly, Minnesota. He was the eldest son and the sixth of 13 children. He was raised with his 12 siblings in the Minnesota farm communities of Herman and Donnelly.

In 1942 Mr. Corcoran entered the United States Navy. After basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, he was assigned to the Pacific Fleet on the battleships USS Vincennes and USS Nevada, serving as a gunner’s mate. He served two tours in the Pacific and Atlantic.

While in the Navy he contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a naval hospital in Corona, California. It was during this time that he met Lea Madison in Los Angeles at the original Pig ‘n Whistle restaurant in the old Lankershim Hotel. They were married in February 1944 in Pomona. After Mr. Corcoran received an honorable discharge from the Navy, the young couple returned to Minnesota for a short time.

On medical advice he moved to the mile-high altitude of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the couple remained for about a year, with Mr. Corcoran working at a filling station. They then decided to move to Ms. Corcoran’s hometown of Los Angeles.

Mr. Corcoran then went to work for Martin’s Oil Company in Pasadena. But it was when he ventured part time into the upholstery business that he found his occupational passion. He opened Corcoran Auto Upholstery (later Corcoran Upholstery) on Valley Boulevard in Rosemead  in 1951, launching what would become a 65-year career as one of the most successful upholstery businesses in the San Gabriel Valley.

For more than 30 years his shop was in old West Covina. He later relocated to San Dimas, where he entered into a partnership with his youngest son, Kevin. They renamed the company Corcoran Furniture Upholstery, with Mr. Corcoran remaining involved until his retirement in 2001. The company continues to thrive today in La Verne, still under the ownership of his son Kevin. 

Mr. Corcoran enjoyed reading, telling stories and spending time with his family. Laughing and making others laugh was his most treasured pastime, his family shared. He and his brother Ed enjoyed annual “driving” trips, visiting family and extended family throughout the farmlands of Minnesota; they also took four trips to Europe. 

In later years there were family reunions in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Washington, where the entire Corcoran clan would gather. “Uncle Bud,” as he was known, was a patriarchal figure to the entire extended family and thoroughly enjoyed participating in all 10 reunions he was able attend, his family shared. 

Mr. Corcoran was a reverent and devoted Catholic, and was very supportive of the Catholic parishes where he and his family attended mass for more than 60 years: St. Christopher’s in West Covina, Sacred Heart in Covina and Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont. He recently received recognition from Our Lady of the Assumption as a minister of hospitality for his more than 50 years as a parishioner there.

While his children attended school he was an avid booster, supporting Sacred Heart Catholic School as well as Damien and St. Lucy’s high schools, from where his children all graduated. 

Mr. Corcoran was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Lea; his companion of 11 years, Ruth Cardon; and 10 of his 12 siblings.

He is survived by his brother Edmond Corcoran and sister Patricia Mastro; his children Timothy Corcoran (Linda Olson) of Redlands, Karyn Corcoran Elkington of Claremont, Jacqueline Corcoran of Alexandria, Virginia and Kevin Corcoran (Deborah Porter) of Claremont; grandchildren Shawn Corcoran (Lisa Sestile), Taylor Corcoran, Courtney Corcoran Hostetler (Alex Hostetler), Brian Corcoran, Bradley Corcoran and Alexander Corcoran; and three great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Clarence J. Corcoran to Our Lady of the Assumption School Scholarship Fund at Gifts will provide financial assistance toward an annual scholarship to the two most deserving graduates planning to attend Damien and St. Lucy’s high schools. 

A rosary and viewing is scheduled for 10 a.m. today, Friday, September 22, with a mass to follow at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 435 Berkeley Ave., Claremont.

“For all those wonderful customers of Corcoran Upholstery, we thank you and are grateful for your loyalty over the years,” Mr. Corcoran’s family added. “Our father and our family are very proud to have been a part of your lives and your homes.”



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