Jean Klimowski, fondly known by her nickname of Jeannie, grew up in Colby, Wisconsin where her favorite memory was all the neighborhood kids getting together after chores to play baseball. “I miss the way things were when I was growing up,” she said. Her “guiding light” then and now is God, but if she had to choose someone else, she would choose her parents, brothers, and sisters.
After graduating from Colby High School, Jeannie went to Milwaukee Metropolitan Business College. She worked as a keypuncher and then moved on to working secretarial jobs and doing computer work. Her first job was working for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Milwaukee.
During her first marriage, she moved to Norfolk, Virginia. She had two children. Lara currently lives in Florida with her husband, Dave. Dana currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, Kelly, and their three children, Cole, a member of the Army, and Caitlyn and Caleb, who are in grade school.
After a short time in Virginia, Jeannie and her family moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she worked for a year. Jeannie feels the most interesting thing about herself is that she once lived in Cuba. “My sister also lived there at the same time. I was called to go to work keypunching the second day I was down there. The supervisor went back through the grapevine to find me, because they were short-handed and heard that I could keypunch,” Jeannie explained. She said she has learned many things through life experiences.
Next, Jeannie moved to California, working for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. She moved back to Colby and worked at Voelker Brothers in Marshfield. She then met and married Tom Klimowski, which accounted for her final move to Phillips. For 26 years, she worked in various departments for Price County, including Human Services, the County Clerk's Office, Forestry, and Veterans' Services as a benefit technician, plus she worked for an additional two years with the county as a contracted employee through NTC. The Klimowskis, now married for 34 years, also operated a dairy farm and have one son, John.
Jeannie’s favorite vacation memory is one she shares with her son when they were in Italy. She especially enjoyed visiting the Vatican and watching John learn so much. “We went for a walk in Venice crossing little bridges and suddenly found ourselves lost,” Jeannie reminisced. “We spotted some signs that we recognized from earlier in the day and followed them and ended up in a square where we took a boat back to our hotel. That is a fun memory,” Jeannie shared, stating that she looks forward to vacation time with her children and grandchildren. “I feel proud of my kids,” she added.
Jeannie’s religious and moral convictions are not only evident in that favorite vacation memory but in many of her interview answers. When asked what superpower she’d most like to have, she replied, “I would not choose any of them. It would be a great responsibility to use them wisely and fairly and I would worry about doing the right thing. Besides, I like the way God made me.”
Due to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, Christmas is Jeannie’s favorite holiday. She also likes the beautiful decorations and the fact that everyone is usually in a happy mood. “I love celebrating Christmas with family and friends, one of the major days that we get together during the year,” remarked Jeannie. Her immediate family and friends have brought her the most happiness in life.
Also finding happiness in helping others, Jeannie’s favorite quote is, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” said by President Kennedy. Her fondness of this quote is exemplified in the organizations she has worked with in our area. For the last 27 years, Jeannie has been the chairman of the Price County Salvation Army (SA). Plus, she is an associate member of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP). While she said it was a difficult question to answer, Jeannie feels her greatest contribution to the community was working with people in need through SA and SVDP. “I also love working with Veterans,” Jeannie added.
In that arena, Jeannie was the president of the American Legion Auxiliary in Phillips but currently holds the position of vice president. She was a member of the VFW Auxiliary. Being on the board of directors for Friends of Fred Smith, she helps oversee the restoration of the Wisconsin Concrete Park. She was a religious education teacher for several years. Rounding out her activities, Jeannie belongs to St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church where she participated as a reader and server of Communion until her diagnosis of breast cancer in January of 2016, which is when she also retired from her career with the county.
Jeannie feels that younger people should want to live in Price County because, “Phillips is a smaller community with friendly people and a great place to work with great recreational activities available such as hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, ATVs, a movie theater, community plays, swimming, camping, hiking, golf, etc. It is a great place to raise a family.”
Unable to pick the most special thing someone has done for her, Jeannie remarked, “Since my illness, so many people have been so kind to me that it would be impossible to pick one thing....I know I am loved.”
Jeannie admitted, “I need all of my family and friends’ support during trying times like during cancer....I hope for a cure for cancer.”
If you would like to offer Jeannie some support during her cancer treatments, you can attend her benefit on Saturday, August 5th starting at 1 p.m. at Club 13 in Phillips. There will be a pie auction at 2 p.m. Pies include blueberry, cherry, chocolate peanut butter, coconut, Dutch apple, French silk, grasshopper, peach, pecan, pumpkin, raspberry, and strawberry rhubarb. There will also be two cheesecakes and an almost five pound pina colada cake. Aside from food, several larger items and raffle baskets will be available. If you wish to make a donation before the event, or need further details, you can contact two of the event organizers, Toni Bauer Singsime or Sylvia Kerner. The event’s Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/events/552182228503831/
Photo by Lynn Neeck
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