The word quickly spread throughout our small group of friends: “Have you heard, Bob Klas died Friday?” As a young boy from a very large family in Wabasha, his first business was selling popcorn from a homemade shop. It was the first of many ventures that eventually resulted in his becoming President and CEO of the Tapemark Company in West St. Paul, where he remained a continuing member of the Board of Directors. He and his devoted wife, Sandy, created a large family, including several children with special needs. Together they served on various boards and gave away millions to Universities, hospitals, churches, schools and people in need.
Sandy became my best friend soon after I met her in 1973, when we both served on a Special Education Council in the St. Paul schools. With her great sense of humor, she collected friends easily and taught me the joys of having fun friends. In fact, I dedicated my second memoir published by Amazon to her as she had judiciously read every page of my manuscript, guiding me to its eventual conclusion. This woman has many talents and this one may have been influenced by her parents who had been reporters of the local newspaper years ago.
Three of my present girlfriends, also great admirers of Sandy and Bob, knew we had to attend the Visitation to be held near Bob’s business. Although the weather was forbidding, now with its windy, cold rain pelting and turning the 10 or 15 inches of fleecy white snow into slippery hazardous ice, we four, no longer spring chickens, were determined to get there. Although three or us were over the age of 80, our youngest, Phyllis, still in her 60s, who could multi-task and drive anywhere, insisted on picking us all up and getting us there, even with roads and sidewalks turning into ice. Sandy and I often referred to her as ‘the kid’ since she was so much younger than us but still, for unknown reasons, seemed to like us.
On such a horrid weather day, hundreds turned out to honor Bob and his supportive wife. It was rather like a class reunion, with so many of us enjoying seeing friends and acquaintances we hadn’t recently seen. I even ran into my daughter and ‘son-in-law! ‘ Reluctantly we bundled up, getting ready to tackle the even harder cold rain waiting to pelt us as we left. Dropping me off last, we discovered the street, sidewalk and front porch were now virtually sheets of ice. It was apparent there was no way I could safely get out of the car, cross the street, get on the sidewalk and onto the porch.
“It’s apparent we have to find some Ice/Melt somewhere,” Phyllis said. One of her many talents is her quick ability to move into a problem-solving mode in a calm, matter-or-fact way. Not only did she locate a filling station nearby, she purchased the last huge container of Ice/Melt, caressing it lovingly as she tentatively found her way back to the car. She insisted I stay in the car until she had adequately covered the sidewalk and porch with newspapers she had purchased to spread over the Ice/Melt, then assisted me into my home.
As perilous as it was for anyone to be out in this weather, horrid for even Minnesota, the four of us were so pleased we could be among the many who weathered the ice and rain storm to ‘honor this remarkably honorable man’!