claudias cafe

The Story of Claudia and Betty

By Denise Konz, Claudia’s daughter


It would be hard to capture the personalities of Betty and Claudia if one never had met them. But those who did meet them would know they were two fiery women who knew what they wanted and how to make it happen. When either of them walked in a room, you knew it. They were not shy and would either greet you with a smile or a glare. Their pictures will give you a glimpse. The excitement and drive in both of them can be seen in their faces and actions. Friendship, family and purpose is what drove them. Together they loved to travel, shop, eat out and take trips to the local casino.

Betty was a great mother, friend and philanthropist. Betty’s foundation, named “Wings of Freedom,” donated to many organizations. She was a proud donor of the Flight 93 Memorial Garden in Pennsylvania; Folds of Honor, an organization that helps provide for families of fallen and disabled service members; and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital for Cancer. She also donated to the Calaveras County Fair, local hospitals, clinics and much more.

Claudia, also a proud mother, grandmother and dog lover, donated time to the Angels Camp Business Association and was the foreman on the Calaveras Grand Jury as well as serving on the Grand Jury. She also volunteered at the Angels Camp Police Department, where they too became her family.

Upon receiving her cancer diagnosis, Claudia was a fighter. She was going to give it her all and leave a mark on whoever she met along the way. She never looked forward to her treatments, but she always looked forward to seeing the nurses, staff and especially her favorite PA, Shane Tipton. She always had an opinion or suggestion for the staff, along with treats and snacks.

When the new cancer center opened, she noticed her hospital staff friends did not have access to food, drinks or a place to take a break. While receiving her treatment, she would tell them she was going to find a way to have a café built for them and the patients of the cancer center. She spoke with her dear friend Betty and the donation was made. Claudia’s Café has now become a reality.

Claudia’s vision was to see a place where patients receiving treatment would have smoothies, food or coffee brought to them while they sat in the treatment chairs, sometimes for hours. She also wanted the patients’ friends, family, or caregivers to have a place to take a break and care for themselves, even if just for a moment. She especially wanted her nurses and staff to have nourishment. She felt the staff gave their all, every day, and it would take a toll on them, so they needed a place to rebuild their emotional and physical strength.

After a hard-fought battle, Claudia succumbed to her cancer. She had her family by her side and slipped away peacefully in her sleep. Two years later, Betty too passed. Although Claudia and Betty would have loved to see the completion of Claudia’s Café, it will be enjoyed by all who knew and loved them both. You will see little bits of Claudia’s personality throughout the café from the names of the foods to the cookies and sweets they both loved.

Betty and Claudia shared a special friendship, and their goal was to provide a place where others can make friends and build each other up through comfort and food. If only there could be a slot machine in the café, then, their dream would be fulfilled!

Betty Higgins, 1925-2021
Claudia Raznikov, 1939-2019