Services for Mary Klassen will be 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at First United Methodist Church, where she was a member, burial will follow in Woodlawn Cemetery, under the direction of Rice Funeral Service.
Friends may visit at the funeral home on Monday, August 12, 2013 from 1 to 7 p.m., with family receiving visitors from 5 to 7 p.m. Mary passed away on Friday, August 9, 2013.
Born in Whitewater, Wisconsin to James C. and Kathryn L. (Siebernaler) Coxe, Mary was reared and educated in her birth community. Growing up on a farm, Mary learned the meaning of a “full day’s work.” This hands-on teaching and knowledge she gained from her experience working alongside her parents served her well later in life.
Mary loved the outdoors and enjoyed fishing, sometimes skipping school and spending the day at the pond. This by no means had any effect on her class work, but wasn’t something her mother was fond of. Following her graduation from high school, she continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. With college degree in hand, Mary moved to Cedar Rapids and began a job as a social worker.
Mary was blessed with 5 children, four of which were born in Cedar Rapids and the last one was born in Wisconsin.
In 1979, she and her family moved to Claremore and Mary worked for the Claremore Progress and the Catoosa Herald. Later she began working for Kwik Kopy where she learned the printing business. In 1983, she ventured out on her own and opened The Print Shop. Her work ethic that was instilled in her as a young child became most useful at this time.
She was able to maintain her successful business, take care of her family and give back to the community she so loved, with her memberships in the Claremore Chamber of Commerce, Reveille Rotary and involvement with the Rogers County United Way. Mary was most active with Tri County CASA, where she was the President of the Board of Directors. She was also a member of the Claremore Elks Lodge.
Her children’s biggest fan, Mary was a wonderful mother. She might expect a lot from you, but she gave her all to those she loved. When it came time for grandchildren she once said that if she could have skipped the kids, she would have went straight to the grandkids. She would be the first to all of their activities, cheering them on. If you knew Mary you might say work was her hobby.
When time allowed she still enjoyed fishing, but most recently she had found the love of golf. If Neal Diamond was near, she would make sure she was at his concert. She loved football and followed her beloved Green Bay Packers each season. She even owned stock in the team.
A hard working, straightforward and humble lady, Mary passed these same traits to her children, teaching them the value of a hard day’s work.
Each one of her children knew the printing business inside and out, worked alongside their mother, making sure that someday she could pass the baton to them. They would be prepared to continue her commitment to this community. And always keep the candy dish full.
Those family members that survive include her children Thomas “Tom” Klassen of Corpus Christi, TX, James “Jim” Klassen of Tulsa, Kimberly “Kim” Kirksey and husband Jason of Stillwater, Bryan Klassen of Claremore and Jonathan “Jon” Klassen and wife Jessica of Lees Summit, MO; her beloved grandchildren Jaron Klassen, Cody Klassen, Christian Klassen, Kaitlyn Kirksey, Garrett Kirksey, Jack Klassen, Jason Klassen and Abigail Klassen. Mary was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Carol Coxe.
The family request in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Mary’s name to Tri County CASA, 200 S. Lynn Riggs Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017, Attn: Angela Henderson.
“Letter From Home”
The Klassen Kids
Sorry to bother you - I know you're having a ball in heaven with Baby Grandma and your sister Carol.
Mom — we're all a little scared with you being gone and were wondering…who's gonna have our back now?
I know you've told us all along that your kids are your life - but did you ever realize we felt the same about you? There are some debts you can never repay - and all of us are forever saddled with what we owe you.
“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend”
We still wonder today - how did you do it? Raised in Wisconsin…working morning, day and night to help keep the family farm afloat…enduring a physically abusive home environment…all while trying to just be a kid. You even had to endure suddenly losing Carol, your 12 year-old sister, to a drunk driver. You lived a full life before ever reaching adulthood.
You moved to Iowa, started a family, came back to Wisconsin and finally landed in Oklahoma. But raising us practically on your own just meant more work for you. We still marvel at the stories of you working days at a supermarket in Boscobel, Wisconsin, and nights on the family farm - did I mention while 9 months pregnant?
But then - you've always put family first Mom. We could always count on you being there - in good and bad times. Even later in life, it was you alone at the bedside of your dying parents - an ordeal that we now know is so very painful to witness.
“Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again”
The ride you took us on culminated in Claremore. Your first job was at the Claremore Progress, but you knew you were destined for something else.
Forever you've taught us that sometimes you've got to take risks to get where you want to be. In 1983, a 36 year-old mother of 5 school-aged children opening her own printing business in Oklahoma would clearly be defined as a risk. The Print Shop was your creation - let's call it your 6th child.
You had the perfect qualities for a business owner: independent, strong willed, self-motivated with a tremendous work ethic. I don't know if we ever fully grasped how hard you worked to make the business successful.
Many nights, unbeknownst to us, you would come home after a 12 hour workday, cook dinner, tuck us in bed, go back to work until midnight, come home and sleep 3-4 hours and get up to do it again.
What we have today is the direct result of how hard you worked, and one of those debts I mentioned above. We know you felt tremendous appreciation for your “work family” as well. Stacey and Martha are loyal and trusted employees, and under the direction of Kim and Bryan, will carry on The Print Shop legacy.
The business meant your kids now had some competition. From day 1 in business, you've loved your customers - but did you ever realize they felt the same about you?
“You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal”
Growing up under your roof with your rules was no picnic. You were overprotective and all of us endured a strict upbringing…but thank god for that.
We understand why you wouldn't let us ride in a car unless it was a family member driving. It was your way of trying to control not losing somebody else close to you. We understand why you set a curfew - and why you kept one floorboard extra creaky on the stairs so that you could hear whether or not we made it home on time. Yes, we even understand why you made us join the marching band. Those of us who gave you grandchildren certainly understand because we're raising ours the same way.
What a beautiful sight it was to witness you as a grandmother.
All 8 of them have some quality of yours, and they are better people for having spent just a second on this earth with you. It's impossible to put into words how hard it was to tell them you had a 1-way ticket to Heaven.
You absolutely thought the world of your grandchildren - but did you ever realize they felt the same about you?
“Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman”
We better let you get back to catching up with old friends, blaring Neil Diamond music and maybe catching a Green Bay Packers alumni game up there. We're gonna keep that board creaky so we can hear you every once in a while. And Mom, if you ever feel scared, don't worry…we'll always have your back.