Sound reinforcement pioneer, entrepreneur and innovator Walter Eugene Clair, one of the Clair Brothers, passed away on 3 December at the age of 73 after an illness. Gene, as everyone knew him, was born 6 May, 1940 to Roy B. Clair and Ellen Mae (Ulrich) Clair, in Lititz, Pennsylvania, where he remained a lifelong resident. He was a graduate of Warwick High School and went on to earn a degree in Engineering from Penn State University.
While working as an electrician for Franklin & Marshall College, Gene and his brother, Roy, provided sound for a visiting musical group – Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The band was so impressed with the audio quality that they invited the brothers to tour with them, heralding the beginning of what would become Clair Brothers Audio. In its 40-plus year history, the company has developed innovations which are now standards in the live production industry, and has grown to become the largest provider of sound reinforcement services in the world.
Gene served as a live audio engineer for a roster of artists that included Elton John, The Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, Michael Jackson and Peter Wolf, to name a few, traveling throughout the world. After selling his end of the business to his son Troy in 1995, Gene divided his time between Lititz and his mountain home in Sinnemahoning, PA. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association’s Board of Directors, and spent every Penn State home game entertaining friends and family with tailgating extravaganzas.
Gene is survived by his brother Roy Clair; his partner of 23 years, Betty Shenenberger; the mother of his children, Joan (Klopp) Clair; children Troy (Katy) Clair and Gina (Stan) Zeamer; grandchildren Shaun (Nicole) Clair, Matt (Natalie) Clair, Gail Clair, Kyle Keener and Taylor Keener; and Great Grandchildren, Bella, Lilly and Otto. He was preceded in death by his parents, and son, Cory Clair. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be sent to any of the following: Moravian Manor Retirement Community, 300 West Lemon Street, Lititz, PA 17543; Hospice of Lancaster, 685 Good Drive, P.O. Box 4125, Lancaster, PA 17604-4125; or the Lititz Rec Center, 301 Maple Street, Lititz, PA 17543.