After 15-years of desperately missing her best friend and soulmate, Wanda Catherine (Palmer) Klein joined her beloved Frederick Joseph in faith and spirit on December 15, 2023 after a brief stay in Colorado Springs, CO hospice just two-weeks shy of her 90th birthday.
As the last of her generation of family, Wanda joins her sister, Marilyn, and Allen Wilzbach and her nephew, Steve Wilzbach, from the Palmer side. The family trio is now fully reunited with the Klein brothers, husband Fred and Lou and Mike & the sisters in-law, Jean (Schaum) Klein and Mary (Stinchcomb) Klein.
Wanda was preceded in death by her parents Clay and Adalene (Reef) Palmer.
A favorite pastime of Wanda’s the last few years was sifting through dozens of picture albums and memory books that the family prepared for Wanda so she could keep up on all the happenings with a small but mobile family that spanned Cincinnati (where she raised her boys), Bradenton, Detroit, LA, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and Colorado Springs. Those left behind will be able to embrace the memories as they turn the same pages Wanda turned. Celebrating her life are her sons, Douglas (Karen) and Jeffrey (Maria) and her grandchildren, Sarah Klein-Wilson (Scott), Kristen (Justyn Rizzardi), Jason [JJ] (Elli) and James [Jimmy]. And her only great grandchild, Leon Thomas Klein [JJ & Elli], who was just months from visiting his great grandma for the first time, will get to learn about great grandma and grandpa Klein through those same albums.
Wanda was born in Columbus, Ohio and through a family business her father joined, the family relocated to Cincinnati. Wanda was introduced to Fred on a blind date and that started a 51-year love affair for two people that were completely made for each other.
Starting and raising a young family in the late 50’s and 60’s, Wanda was the quintessential homemaker. She embraced that role and was fastidious to the very end taking great pride in having a spotless and fresh-smelling unit that Assisted Living staff enjoyed entering to just sit down, relax and chat.
If you’ve ever seen the film “Mr. Holland’s Opus” it was set in the 60’s, the same time Wanda and Fred were raising a deaf son (Jeff) and the film depicted our family. Having a deaf child in the era before ADA, in the era where the hearing world thought everyone should lip-read, in the era where the oral method was the most prominent method of educating deaf children, the young parents navigated these new waters in an effort to create an environment in which their child could thrive. Many barriers presented themselves, and as in the movie, when sign language was introduced, the world changed for the family and the world changed for Jeff.
Through struggles of all sorts Wanda and Fred instilled the importance of a tight-knit, mutually supportive, well-educated, laughter-filled and loving family. As you see their sons and families today, any objective standard would tell you that what the young couple built and carried into their retirement years was a success. It is their legacy.
Retirement took them from Cincinnati to the Gulf Coast of Florida where they enjoyed 22 years before Fred’s passing in 2009. And that brings us to where Wanda’s earthly journey will end. The family will be taking her ashes to Florida sometime during 2024 where she will be committed to the Gulf of Mexico to join Fred; we trust that they will give us clear skies and calm waters as they watch over our final gesture of love and respect.
The family welcomes comments and memories on this obituary page. If you are inclined to give gifts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for certified ASL interpreters will increase by 25% by the end of the decade; we ask that you donate in memory of Wanda C Klein to Gallaudet University who have been kind enough to set up a direct link in which donations will be directed to the Interpreting and Translation Program or if you prefer you can mail your donations.
Wanda Klein Memorial Gifts to Gallaudet University Interpretation and Translation Department: GU.live/kleinmemorial
Mail: Gallaudet University
800 Florida Ave, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
On memo line indicate memorial for Wanda C Klein fbo Interpreting Program