Parade Grand Marshal
Alice Claire (Walling) Dias
Alice Claire (Walling) Dias, was born at 19A Marchant Street in 1929 to Robert M. and Alice L. (Fitzpatrick) Walling, making her a true “native” 5th Warder! Relocating southeast, to Connection Street, brought her closer to her life-long parish, St. Augustin’s, where she graduated from their parochial school.
The early days of World War II saw her as a freshman at St. Catherine Academy where she was elected Class President all four years, graduating in 1946. Her love of St. Catherine’s would keep her very active, serving on many Alumnae committees and, eventually, as the President.
While growing up, Claire spent many hours at the “HUT”. It was like a second home for her. She played basketball almost year round and then, after high school, was on the girls’ basketball team which played around New England and was sponsored by the Mayflower Restaurant.
After high school, Claire attended Newport Business School and worked at Newport Hospital.
Claire married her Holland Street sweetheart, and love of her life, Joseph C. Dias, on September 15th, 1951 in a ceremony at St. Augustin’s Church.
Together, Joe and Claire operated Maple Farm Store in Middletown and, in 1959, opened “Joe’s Package Store” at the corner of Thames Street and Narragansett Avenue.
They have five children, Mary Alice Jerome and her husband Mike, Joseph and his wife Beth, Missy Munroe and her husband Tom, Susan Clark and her husband Douglas, and John and his wife Colleen. She has nine grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Claire is a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. In 2007, Claire and Joe were the honored recipients of the Civitas Award by the Irish Heritage Committee.
She is active in St. Augustin’s Church, where she has been a Eucharistic Minister, a member of the Finance Committee, Parish Council, and the Christmas Bazaar and she has continued the annual Parish Chicken Dinner started by her late husband, Joe.
An active member of the Democratic State Committee, Claire was elected a delegate to the 1986 Rhode Island Constitutional Convention.
Claire visited Kinsale, Ireland in 2009 with the Newport Sister Cities delegation to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the twinning. In 2012 she returned to Ireland with family members, visiting County Clare, County Galway, and County Dublin.
The Parade Committee is pleased to honor Claire for her life of dedication to our community and her blessed spirit of kindness and compassion. May you enjoy your Parade Day stroll as Grand Marshal, especially as you step by your front door and “Joe’s Package Store” on Thames Street, in the heart of the “5th Ward”.
Our yearly button designs try to incorporate the vocation or interests of our Grand Marshal. For the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade our Grand Marshal is Claire Walling Dias. To reflect this, the design incorporates both the Irish flag and one of the more famous emblems of Portugal, the Rooster of Barcelos. By birth, Claire is of Irish decent. By marriage, she is Portuguese. Of course, the Rooster could be emblematic of the many chicken dinners she and Joe Dias had made for St. Augustin’s!
Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos
The Rooster of Barcelos is one of the most common emblems of Portugal and, as you may have noticed, the focal point of this year’s Official Parade Button. Here is a variation of the legend of this symbol.
The Rooster of Barcelos tells the story of a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death.
According to this legend (and there are variations), silver had been stolen from a landowner in Barcelos, and the people of the city were looking for the criminal. A man from neighboring Galicia, who was passing through Barcelos on a Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, appeared and became a suspect.
Despite his pleas of innocence, he was arrested and condemned to hang. Asked to be taken to the judge who condemned him, he appeared at the house of the magistrate, who was holding a banquet. Affirming his innocence, the Galician pointed to a roasted cock on top of the banquet table and exclaimed, "It is as certain that I am innocent as it is certain that this rooster will crow when they hang me." The judge ignored the Galician's appeal.
While the pilgrim was being hanged, the roasted rooster stood up on the table and crowed as the Galician predicted. Understanding his error, the judge ran to the gallows, only to discover that the Galician had been saved from hanging thanks to a poorly made knot in the rope. The man was immediately freed and sent off in peace.
Ever since, the Barcelos Cockerel has been a symbol of faith, justice, and good fortune.
From Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooster_of_Barcelos
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