May 11, 1931 – July 13, 2020
Marjorie Olive Klem (nee McKinnon) was born in Drumheller, Alberta, the elder daughter of Alberta pioneers Archie and Olive McKinnon. Marjorie and her five siblings grew up in a small house built against the cut-banks of the Badlands near the Dunphy grain elevator managed by her father, attending classes in a one-room schoolhouse before moving into a dormitory in Drumheller to attend high school where she earned a scholarship to the University of Calgary. There she met the love of her life, the tall, handsome Philip Lester Klem. Married on August 18, 1951, the couple initially settled in Drumheller, then moved to Calgary a few years later where Marjorie joined the Calgary School Board as an elementary teacher.
In an era when women were expected to leave the workforce once children arrived, Marj not only continued to teach as she and Phil raised Cameron and Elaine, but she also returned to university to earn her Bachelor of Education. She embraced and championed many new educational concepts and teaching methods and became vice principal, assistant principal and principal of several schools in Calgary before becoming an assistant superintendent and an area consultant for the school board.
Always outgoing, Marj loved to entertain, and the Klem household was a gathering place for friends and family where having 35 for Christmas dinner was common. A believer in building strong family relationships, Marj helped to organize several large McKinnon family reunions so that far-flung cousins would have a chance to get to know each other. Marj and Phil travelled widely and enjoyed trips to Europe, Central America, and the US.
Shortly after Phil’s retirement, he was diagnosed with ALS, and in 1987, when Phil moved into residential care, Marj retired to become his fulltime caregiver until his death in 1989.
Marj became an Alberta Marriage Commissioner and officiated at several hundred weddings all over southern Alberta. With typical generosity, she offered the use of her beautiful home to young couples who could not afford to rent a venue. Marj often regaled friends and family with the many humorous incidents that occurred at ceremonies everywhere from a mountain summit to a steamboat. Laughter was always a big part of Marj’s personality and throughout her life she worked to incorporate an element of fun into all her activities.
In 1993, she moved to Comox, BC where she became very active in the community as a member of Comox Valley Probus, Newcomers Alumni, and the Celtic Club. She was an avid supporter of local artists, and the walls of her condo were filled with paintings of the area’s mountain and ocean scenery.
Following a stroke in 2016, Marj moved into the Comox Valley Seniors Village, where she loved to receive visitors and listen to the latest family news.
Marj is lovingly remembered by brothers Donald McKinnon and Allen McKinnon (Rita), son Cameron Klem (Jo-Ann: granddaughter Jessica), daughter Elaine Brown (Alan: grandsons Matthew and Christopher), and her many nieces and nephews and their families. She is pre-deceased by her brothers Hugh McKinnon (Comox), Charlie McKinnon (Bowser, BC), and sister Doris Smith (Leduc, Alberta).
Her family would like to thank Dr. Russell- Atkinson and the staff of the Comox Valley Seniors Village for the compassionate and professional care they provided. An opportunity for family and friends to gather and share stories will be organized at a later date. Flowers gratefully declined. Consider making a donation on her behalf to a charity of your own choosing and reconnect with a family member or friend.
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