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June 23, 1998

I don't know how many of you remember Ed and Betty Klewer and their family. Ed traveled this area for Snap-On Tools and I always thought he behaved like someone who enjoyed his work. He was a jolly man, a little rotund. His face lit up with a bright smile at the least opportunity. Ed could tell a story to make you laugh or give his undivided attention to one of yours. He often had an interesting point of his own to add. Sometime ago I had a column about the Frisco Railroad Doodlebug that used to chug through Perry. Ed read that and sent me an interesting letter about his own recollection of the Doodlebug and some of the Santa Fe locomotives that visited Perry frequently. Until then I was unaware of his background in that field. He was a train hobbyist.

Before coming here he had been a railroad man in various capacities and he never lost his love for the romance and adventure of those steam locomotives we used to see on every track. That was back in the age of real railroads, with passenger travel and everything, when every village's importance was judged by its proximity to the main lines of whatever steel tracks served their area. Perry was lucky; we had both east-west and north-south railroad service, and that put us ahead of Stillwater, for instance. The Aggies used to have to come to Perry to watch the passenger trains come and go.

Ed also spent some time working in the oil business in some exotic Mid-East countries and he had many interesting tales to tell about that period of his life. The Klewers were Methodists and were active members of the local church. I came to know him primarily because his daughter, Carolyn, was a friend of our Kathy. They graduated from PHS the same year and, although their paths parted about then, they stayed more or less in touch. The family also included two sons, Carl and Keith. All of them are grown up young adults now, gone from the nest. Ed and his wife moved from here to Stillwater a few years ago and operated their own business for a while, but we saw them from time to time, long enough to keep our families up to date on what our daughters were doing.

Laura and I were away from Perry on a business trip last week and we had just returned home when we heard the shocking news of the tragic automobile accident in Independence, Missouri, that took the lives of Ed, his wife and two others in their car. The driver of the other vehicle remains in critical condition. In our own life, we had just recently experience the trauma of being involved in a two-car collision. Both cars were totaled by the accident but none of the four people involved had any kind of injury. Thank God for that. We knew we were fortunate and we also found what it was like to go through the terror of an automobile collision in which serious bodily harm was certainly possible. In our relatively minor case, the potential victims were completely helpless to prevent the accident or forestall personal injury. It is a fearsome thing and it leaves an indelible impression.

The Klewers apparently were not at fault in their tragic accident, but they are gone from this life and the family's pain is not abated by that fact. Their parting leaves a void and a sadness for all who knew them, and we send our love and sympathy to the children who mourn them most.