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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Camilla Klinesteker, words such as sensitive, loving, compassionate, and caring come to mind. However, the most prominent quality, evident to all who knew her, was that of infinite kindness. Camilla lived her life giving selflessly of her time and energy to support both her growing family and the community she loved. Her greatest treasure, however, was the time she spent with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Deeply loved, she will be dearly missed. She leaves behind special memories for her loved ones to cherish forever.
On January 4, 1932 in Allegan, Michigan, Harold and Rena (Tooker) Farnum celebrated the arrival of their beautiful newborn daughter, Camilla. With banks still closing as a result of the Great Depression her birth brought light to an era of challenging times. Joining her older brothers, Harold and Vernon, Camilla relished in all the privileges of being the baby and the only daughter to her loving parents.
While growing up in Allegan, her father worked as a skilled furniture maker for Imperial Furniture and Baker Furniture in Holland, Michigan. Her mother was secretary to Congressman Clare Hoffman. As a child, she loved to play with dolls, attend plays at Griswold Auditorium, and watch movies at the downtown Regent Movie Theater. Living a rural life, she always jumped at the opportunity to drive the family farm tractor. In her teens she loved roller skating and playing softball, and she relished borrowing her parents’ 1946 Ford V-8. Graduating with the Class of 1949 from Allegan High School, she soon found employment at a local jewelry store. She had an innate gift of making people comfortable which helped open many doors for her over the years.
In November 1950, Ivan Klinesteker and his friends drove into Allegan where they spotted beautiful Camilla and her girlfriends parked in front of the post office. They stopped and chatted. In the following days, “chance meetings” with long conversations as well as a shared interest in Saturday afternoon opera and other classical music, brought them closer together. A beautiful love story had begun. They married the following year in Hamilton, Michigan. Over the next five years they were blessed with four wonderful children: Mark, Bryan, Corinne, and Bill. Early in their lives together they moved to Kalamazoo and began attending People’s Church. Through their involvement in the church, Ivan and Camilla developed a meaningful philosophy of life and deep and lasting friendships.
As a mother, Camilla was compassionate and loving. She instinctively raised her children to be independent and empathetic. Friends of her children were never strangers in her home. She was always welcoming and made certain that everyone felt special in her presence. Her chocolate no-bake cookies became a local sensation. The cookies continue to be made and enjoyed by her children and grandchildren. She loved traditions and Christmas was never complete without her famous Scotch eggs and English crackers. For over forty years, summers were enjoyed at their cottage in South Haven where they often hosted dinners and special events for friends and family. Camila always positioned herself in her favorite porch chair to keep watch over the boats traveling north and south on Lake Michigan.
While serving as an active member of the Kalamazoo Peace Council during the Vietnam War era, Camilla expressed her social conscience by marching for peace in New York City and Washington D.C. She demonstrated for civil rights and held leadership positions on numerous community and church committees. Fortunate to witness her active participation in social justice over the years, her children grew to emulate her authentic love of all people.
Camilla’s early employment history included several years as representative for George’s Toys, hosting “demonstration parties” of toys for other young mothers. Her primary career was running the Western Michigan University Bookstore Post Office for 25 years where she was a mother figure to many students. A few years after retiring from WMU, during summers at the family cottage, she helped her long time friend and owner, Nancy Phillips, run the Hidden Room Book Shoppe on Phoenix Street in South Haven. Customers relied on her welcoming presence and book recommendations.
Camilla held a special love for South Haven’s warm summer evenings and often drove to the South Beach after work to view the lighthouse and the lake. Before returning to the cottage, when her sweet tooth got the best of her, she’d stop for an ice cream sundae. Her favorite trips to Sherman’s, however, were with groups of friends and family.
A lover of travel, she never turned down an opportunity to join family or good friends on travel adventures. Her trips included camping with family across the USA, paddle boat trips down the Mississippi, overseas visits to England and the Netherlands, and several General Assembly meetings with friends representing People’s Church.
Camilla enjoyed watching The Waltons, Downton Abbey, As Time Goes By, Upstairs Downstairs, and other British BBC shows. Music held a special place in Camilla’s heart. Her favorite genres were classical and folk music especially Peter, Paul, and Mary. She always enjoyed any tune sung by her son Bryan, tapping her foot to the beat. Wherever the family was, Camilla was content. Her family was her everything. Camilla lived a lifetime of generous acceptance. In her quiet way she changed the world. She will always be with us and we will always love her.
Camilla Klinesteker, age 87 of Kalamazoo, died peacefully after a short illness on January 12, 2019. Her family meant the world to her. From travelling adventures to summers at the cottage, she created many years of lasting memories with those she loved. She enjoyed her career working at the WMU Bookstore Post Office. Her involvement with the Hidden Room Book Shoppe and especially People’s Church was also near and dear to her heart. She was preceded in death by her parents: Harold and Rena (Tooker) Farnum; and siblings: Vernon Farnum and Harold Farnum. Surviving are her husband, Ivan; children: Mark (Hester) Klinesteker, Bryan (Tracy) Klinesteker, Corinne (Dennis) Overmyer, and Bill (Janice) Klinesteker; grandchildren: Shawna (Matthew) Riddle, Colin (Becky) Klinesteker, Bryce (Anna) Klinesteker, Kristen Overmyer, Cody (Kristen) Overmyer, Michael Overmyer, Kate (Ben) Duffy, Chad (Danger) Klinesteker, Dylan (Kristi) Klinesteker; former daughter in-law: Cathy Lair Klinesteker; great-grandchildren: Lena, Allegra, Jovi, Mila, Genevieve, Annabel, and Molly; step-granddaughter: Michelle Overmyer-Clark; and several special nieces and nephews who loved her dearly. Cremation has taken place. Services will be held on Sunday, March 31 at 1PM at People’s Church, 1758 10th Street N, Kalamazoo. Please visit Camilla’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to People’s Church, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, or Planned Parenthood. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo, MI 49009, (269) 375-2900.