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Margaret Martha (Nelson) Klettke

July 27, 1926 - March 31, 2019

Margaret M. Klettke, age 92, passed away March 31, 2019, following a short time in hospice care, during which all of her children, their spouses, most of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and extended family members were able to sit with her, hold her hand, tell stories and jokes, sing,  express their love, and say goodbye.


Margaret was born July 27, 1926, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the fifth of seven children born to Jay and Christina Nelson. She was orphaned at the age of 14, and moved to Portland, Oregon to live with foster parents Chet and Anita Lafe. Margaret married Norman Klettke on August 23, 1952. The couple’s 5 biological children are Cindy, Cheryl (Roger Steinke), Steven (Nina), Brian (Lisa), and Lester. There are 9 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.


To both of them, but especially to Margaret, everyone was family, and anyone was welcome. Consequently, many others have been “parented” by them and despite a long career with Franz Bakery, from which she retired in 1988, Margaret’s real legacy is her role as “mom”.


Losing her own parents at a young age had a profound effect on Margaret’s life and instilled in her the importance of belonging. Wherever she lived (Albuquerque, New Mexico; El Paso, Texas; Tacoma, Washington; Portland, Oregon) she nurtured the neighborhood kids, teaching them outdoor group games she had played as a child, showing them how to bake cookies or how to harvest vegetables from the garden, encouraging them to have fun at anything they set their minds to accomplish.


Wherever she lived, she also became a loving daughter to the elderly in the neighborhood, regularly inviting them over for lunch or tea. She became a loving older sister for the renters next door, offering to share the garden and teach them how to can vegetables. When her biological children married, their spouses acquired a second mom. She simply didn’t acknowledge the “-in-law” part of the equation.


This legacy of “everyone belonging” extended to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. They share fond memories of Grandma Margaret or GG’s funny jokes, endearing songs, homemade cookies, card games, hot tub shenanigans, Easter egg hunts, the best homemade applesauce on the planet, and a sense of humor that knew no bounds.


Margaret was a devout member of Tabor Heights United Methodist Church and she served as a financial secretary for many years.  She also loved the Walk to Emmaus community and sponsored many friends on the Emmaus journey. In their younger years, she looked forward to hosting an annual New Year’s Eve party for church couples that had known each other for decades. She kept in touch with couples from their church communities in Albuquerque and El Paso as well, organizing reunion vacation trips and impressing everyone with her ability to sum up a week’s vacation in rhyme. She also enjoyed spending time with family and friends at their beach house in Oceanside. At the heart of all this entertaining and organizing was her profound desire for all of us to stay connected with one another, for us to be family.


You are invited to celebrate Margaret’s life at a Memorial Service on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at 11am, at Tabor Heights United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, consider a remembrance in her name to Albertina Kerr Come celebrate with us. You belong.

Service Information

Cemetery Information

Date: Friday, April 19, 2019

Time: 10:00 am

End Time: 10:30 am

Willamette National Cemetery


11800 SE Mt Scott Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97086

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