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'Feisty' Lois Klempa remembered: WMS advocate, author and leader.

DR. LOIS KLEMPA, celebrated diaconal minister, prominent leader of the Women's Missionary Society and co-author of Certain Women Amazed Us, a historical account of the WMS, passed away May 19. She is survived by her husband Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Klempa, moderator of the 124th General Assembly.

Born in North Cobalt, Ont., on Oct. 13, 1932, Lois Stewart was one of nine children. She went on to study at Ewart College, Toronto, graduating in 1958.

"After graduating, she wasn't designated as a deaconess, though, because at that point she and Bill had already gotten married. And being married to Bill is a job itself," said Druse Bryan, a close friend and former WMS president, with a laugh.

"Lois was always her own person. She could be feisty. She had a strong opinion on all sorts of subjects, not just theology. We had some good arguments, but she was also fun to be with. When we travelled to WMS events together the party was always in our room," said Bryan, who came to know Lois in the 1970s while the Klempas lived in Montreal.

"In 1989 she organized a cross-Canada anniversary event. It was a huge success and I credit that to her. She had amazing organizational skills, was very put together, but never stuffy."

In subsequent years, Klempa held many offices and titles within the church. Besides being a prominent WMS leader (which included synodical president and serving on its national executive), she served also on various national boards and committees, including the General Assembly's Committee on History and the Congregational Life Committee.

Amidst all her work, the mother of three was also "a huge family person," said Bryan. "She'd happily rearrange her schedule to make time for her grandkids."

In 1998 Klempa became an international ecumenical delegate. "Bill and Lois had a natural partnership. Their roles blended perfectly," said longtime friend Joyce Morden, who, with her husband John, enjoyed many vacation trips together with the Klempas.

By the late 1990s Lois had already begun collecting pieces of the WMS story, often compiling and distributing leaflets on the society's history. So when the WMS decided to publish an extensive history of the society, Klempa was an obvious choice to spearhead the project. She spent three years on researching and writing before the book was published in 2002.

"Lois really believed in what the WMS did over the many years of history," the book's co-author Rev. Rosemary Doran said. "Especially because, for many years, the WMS was one of the few vehicles available to women who wanted to be involved in the church."

"When Lois received her honorary doctorate from Knox College fin 2004], we all felt honoured," said Bryan.

"We were proud that one of our own was recognized. Not many times do honorary doctorates go to a layperson. She inspired many people."

Seth Veenstra is a freelance writer. He attends Central, Hamilton, Ont.

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Title Annotation:Lives Lived
Author:Veenstra, Seth
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:In memoriam
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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