April 24, 1934 - February 24, 2013
Rocky River, Ohio | Age 78
Alice K. Windahl (nee Klein), 78, of Rocky River, beloved wife of 52 years of Ronald C.; dear mother of Jeff (Stacy), Steve (Terri), and Dave (Katie); loving grandmother of Matt, Haley, Leah, Erika, Mitchell and Cassi; sister of Charles M. Klein, M.D.; aunt of Janet Klein (Steve Kalata). Fearless and faith-filled, Alice battled pancreatic cancer for eleven months. She passed away peacefully and in victory on Sunday, February 24, 2013.
Alice Marie graduated from Rocky River High School in 1952. She then attended Centenary Junior College in Hackettstown, NJ, and graduated with an associates degree in 1954. There she met a life-long friend, Jane Henke and, later, Jane's twin sister, Joan, both of Wilmington, Del.
Following her graduation, Alice returned to Cleveland and worked as a reservation and ticketing agent at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on Euclid Avenue. She worked there from 1956 to 1961. It was there, through the store-front window, Ron spotted her as he walked down Euclid Avenue. A friend who knew Alice arranged an introduction.
Alice and Ron's first date was in June of 1959. They were engaged in November of that year and married on Apirl 30, 1960--seemingly impetuous for the two not known for acting impulsively. They have never looked back and had enjoyed nearly 53 years of what each would call a "near-perfect marriage." For roughly 50 of those years of marriage Ron and Alice, celebrated New Year's Eve with the same group of dear friends.
They lived in Lakewood and later moved to a home in Bay Village on Conover Drive where Jeff was born in 1961; Steve in 1963 and Dave in 1965. The family moved from that home to Alice's childhood home in Rocky River which they purchased from Alice's mother and father, Jean and Matthew Klein. Alice and Ron raised their family there.
In 1987, Alice began an 11-year career and ministry working at Bay Presbyterian Church. At Bay Presbyterian Church, Ron and Alice met many of the friends they have enjoyed for decades, sharing in Bible studies, dinners and annual fall visits to Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, for three-days of plays and dining. Both Alice and Ron served as Elders at the church and Ron continues to have an active role as a member of the board of directors.
As she participated fully in the life of Bay Presbyterian Church, Alice served as a tutor at Bridge Avenue School for at-risk students, and with each visit, she carried homemade Rice Krispy treats for the kids.
Alice and Ron spent their retirement years enjoying each other and traveling around the globe--including trips to great European cities, Alaska and the Panama Canal. Alice loved and participated joyfully in water aerobics at the Rocky River Senior Center where she became fast friends with her fellow swimmers. Over her years of her homemaking, Alice was known for baking melt-in-your-mouth cookies and constructing annual gingerbread houses for and with her children, and later her sons' families. She created richly detailed cross-stitch ornaments annually for each of her sons' families. She knit sweaters, Christmas stockings, and she created toddler-sized pinafore dresses, which she made to give away to children in need. On the collar of each dress she would inscribe in indelible ink, "Jesus loves you."
Alice epitomized the life of a Proverbs 31 woman--a woman clothed in strength and dignity, bringing her husband good all the days of her life. Her hands never knew an idle day and she cared for her sons, her daughters-in-love and her grandchildren with a gentle and never-failing love. She was ever optimistic and looked into the future with confidence--trusting in her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. In instructions written years before her death, she detailed. "Don't let anyone leave [the service] without hearing the Gospel. Give them an invitation to trust in Christ as Savior!"
The family wishes to thank their faith family at Bay Presbyterian Church including the Reverends Tom Madden and Garnett Slatton and the unwavering love and support of Sue Johnson, parish nurse, and her husband, Jim. The family also extends their deep appreciation to Dr. Timothy O'Brien and nurse Barb Ruda and the team of caregivers at the Cancer Care Center at MetroHealth. The family thanks the nurses, doctors and caregivers of the Ames Hospice House of the Hospice of the Western Reserve for their wisdom, kindness, patient and loving care of Alice and every member of the family.
Contributions may be made in Alice's memory to The Cancer Care Center, c/o The MetroHealth Foundation, Inc., 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Towers 135A, Cleveland, OH 44109 or The Ames Family Hospice House, c/o Hospice of the Western Reserve, 17876 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, OH 44110.
A celebration of Alice's life and resurrection will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at Bay Presbyterian Church, 25415 Lake Rd., Bay Village, OH. Friends may call at the Busch Funeral Home, 21369 Center Ridge Rd., Fairview Park, OH on Friday, March 1 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Inurnment at Riverside Cemetery, cremation by Busch, 440-333-9774, www.buschfuneral.com
Alice Windahl Tribute shared by Steve Windahl at Alice's funeral service at Bay Presbyterian
Alice K Windahl
On behalf of my dad Ron, my brothers, and our families, I would like to
thank you for being here today and for the many expressions of kindness
and sympathy extended during Mom's illness and now at her death. We
would like to share with you a little bit about my mom and what she meant
My mom, was born Alice Marie Klein on April 24th, 1934. She is now with
the Lord Jesus whom she worshiped, served and faithfully followed for
over 27 years. If you do the math, you understand that Mom wasn't always
a Christian. She was married in a church and had my brothers and me
baptized as infants here at Bay Presbyterian, but that was more out of
tradition than faith. When her niece Catherine was diagnosed with cancer,
she began looking for God. A couple of years later, she found Him.
On September 22, 1985, Reverend Hu Auburn preached a message
entitled "You Can Always Change Your Mind". I don't know what the text
was, but I believe the key to the message was the word "repent" which in
the original language of the New Testament means "to change your mind."
Mom responded to that message by putting her trust in Christ.
I was living at Shaker Square having graduated from college just months
before. I came home that very afternoon to visit and Mom met me in the
driveway with the exciting news. She looked me in the eye and said, "I
gave my heart to the Lord this morning. I always thought I was a believer,
but I had never made the commitment. I'm a new, baby Christian. I know
you understand." On her first spiritual birthday, I sent her a card with this
verse from 1 Peter.
Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do
not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible
and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation
of your souls.
It occurs to me now how much that verse described Mom's life in Christ.
Mom's high school yearbook praised her domestic skills and said
something like "lucky is the man that marries Alice." Her Grace Kelly good
looks caught Dad's eye in June, 1959 and they were married the following
April. That was probably the only action Mom ever took that seemed
impetuous. Her normal style was to be prepared, deliberate, reliable—in a
word, faithful. She and Dad took care of each other selflessly for almost 53
She loved to sew and made some of her own clothes (and some clothes
for us boys) all on an old Singer sewing machine that she refused to
replace. I can't tell you how many hours I spent as a boy at JoAnn Fabrics
while Mom looked at patterns and chose material. I am sure I was the only
boy at Kensington elementary that knew the difference between chintz
and gingham, that bobbin wasn't just something that you did in a
swimming pool and that sewing double-knits can be tricky. Speaking of
knits, she loved to knit, making us mittens and hats, sweaters and
scarves. My brothers and I cherish her hand knit Christmas stockings and
as we married and had children, Mom knit stockings for each additional
family member. She spent many a winter's evening sitting in the den with
my dad, half-watching TV while her hands knitted countless mittens, hats
and scarves for the City Mission or Laura's Home. She did embroidery and
for decades, our Christmas presents have been adorned with counted
cross stitch ornaments.
Mom was humble and I think it is OK if I brag about it. I remember her
attending a women's conference where she was reminded to "tell your
kids you love them". One of the first things she did when she got home
was to look me in the eye and tell me that she loved me. She wasn't
defensive or selfish. She was teachable and constructive. She never had
to be better than anyone. She truly rejoiced in the successes of others
even if the "others" were her opponents in a board game or a tennis
Mom took many classes in her years at Bay Pres. One was a Navigators
2:7 discipleship class. One of the key assignments was to learn how to
share the Gospel and then do it. She did not shrink back from the task.
Nor did she fail to maintain a daily devotional time, or stick to a proper
diet, walk regularly, perform physical therapy exercises or practice
exceptional oral hygiene. My mom was a rule follower and, especially, a
Golden Rule follower. Mom was the kind of thoughtful person that writes
the unexpected love-note, right when you need it. And when she would
see something in a store that would be perfect for someone, she would
buy it for them just because.
Mom practiced gratitude and was a firm believer in thank you notes. The
family joke is that we would come home from celebrating her birthday to
find a thank you note from her already in our mailbox! She was also known
to send thank you notes in response to thank you notes. She was gracious
with everyone, even those she disagreed with. And she lived by the
challenging maxim "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say
anything at all."
She seemed to always be thinking of others and used her keen
administrative ability to ensure that we boys never missed—or were late
to—our respective activities even if that meant serving dinner at three
different times in the same day. Always the kind to be prepared, she would
make sure we were prepared. When I was a senior at Rocky River High
School, I had 5 lines in the yearbook to summarize my 4 years. In addition
to the predictable elements I wrote "Thanks, Mom, for 657 lunches." This
underscores two things, Mom's unwavering commitment to providing me
with healthy, homemade, inexpensive meals and her penchant for
documenting details. I had arrived at the exact number of lunches by
reviewing the archive of Mom's color-coded family calendars to ensure I
did not count snow days, sick days, teacher professional days, etc. when
no sack lunch was needed.
When Mom received her diagnosis—pancreatic cancer, stage IV—and her
prognosis—months, not years, to live—she did not despair or ask "Why
me?" In fact, she asked "Why not me?" Cancer strikes all kinds of people
from all walks of life, she would point out, including kids. She did not feel
God owed her anything but grace for the journey He set before her. The
Bible instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances and through the
cancer treatments, she remained positive and thankful. When I would call
to ask how she was doing, she would cheerfully state "I'm good!" even
when she was losing her hair or was unable to sleep because of the
chemotherapy or was in pain. She had to give herself daily injections to
ward against blood clots, but did not complain.
E-mail updates to friends and loved ones were filled with faith and the
Bible verses she held dear. It wasn't until recent months that she felt her
discomfort was sufficient to warrant making it the topic of conversation.
Even in hospice, when her suffering was greatest, she was upbeat. I
remember an aide entering the room to check on her. "How are you doing,
Alice?" she asked. Mom replied in a voice weakened by her trial, "Very
well, thank you."
In preparation for her oncology appointments, she would type up a
summary of the prior two weeks. In her final memo, she recounted her
worst sufferings, yet thought of the medical staff and how this news would
make them feel. Her concluding statement was: We have done some
major things to help me feel better, but neither is bringing me relief at this
point which has to be frustrating to all that are trying so hard to help. Mom
made sure that we were all talking and in agreement about how we
handled her care, especially in hospice. She wanted to make sure we
would be alright.
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that, practically
speaking, everyone is our neighbor. Mom demonstrated this again and
again. Once, Mom was picking up her car at what was then Spremulli's
garage on Detroit. She noticed a woman get off at the nearby bus stop
immediately looking confused. Surmising that she had gotten off at the
wrong stop, Mom approached her and gave her a ride to her intended
destination. I also remember when Mom had jury duty in downtown
Cleveland. Coffee was provided, but no sweetener, to the disappointment
of one of the jurors. That night, Mom made sure to fill her purse with
packets of sugar and Sweet & Low just for her.
Growing up in the late depression era and the shortages of World War II,
Mom was frugal. For years, the only dish towels we used were made from
cut up linen table cloths. She bought an electric hair clipper and learned
how to cut her sons' hair—yes, in those days, I had hair! My brothers and I
pretty much coasted into our teenage years without ever having to go to a
barber. She calculated that she saved enough money from that alone to
send the family on a fine vacation. Then there was powdered
milk—Carnation Instant, I believe. At a Christmas dinner a few years ago,
my brothers and I were reminiscing about the less than desirable qualities
of powdered milk. We remembered it frothy with iridescent bubbles. If it
had just been made, it was lukewarm. Or, if it was being chilled with ice,
the powder would congeal on the ice cubes. Sometimes it was too watery
and it always had an unnatural aftertaste. We laughed on and on until
Mom passed by our conversation and said "You know that powdered milk
allowed us to educate three boys."
Eating out was a rarity. Mom made sure there was dinner on the table in
the cozy breakfast nook in our Roslyn Drive home. I didn't appreciate until
much later, the care that she took in making meals look appealing, adding
a garnish or blossoming a baked potato. And she even had a trick for
getting us to eat chopped, cooked spinach—add a can of condensed
cream of chicken soup. When I was in College, I ate plain cooked spinach
for the first time and immediately understood why so many people hate it.
My brothers and I grew up in the era of women's liberation. Many of Mom's
friends took to the workforce, earning real estate licenses and such. But
Mom decided working outside the home would have to wait until we were
older. When we had to fill out a form that had a space for "mother's
occupation" we were instructed to put "homemaker".
She didn't need an expert to tell her that kids spell love T-I-M-E. She got
us off to school. She was there when we got home from school. She ran
us to orthodontist appointments, swim practices and trombone lessons. As
a child, she hated having to wait to be picked up so she always made sure
she was on time for us. Whenever I left choir rehearsal, I knew the yellow
LeSabre Luxus with the brown vinyl top would be there, Mom at the wheel.
While we were at school, Mom had the time to participate in a bridge club
at one point and a bowling league and to do lots of volunteer work,
particularly lazy eye screening which she did for many years.
In more recent years, Mom (and Dad), generously made themselves
available to their six grandkids. They attended sporting events of all kinds
in weather of all kinds as well as concerts and musical theater
And Christmas day was always at Grandmas with her famous Christmas
dinner of beef tenderloin (medium rare), twice-baked potatoes, peas and a
multitude of homemade Christmas cookies. Among them were jam
diamonds made with apricot and plum preserves, date-nut bread, which
held a special place in Mom's heart because her dad used to help make it,
and green, marshmallow/cornflake wreathes with cinnamon red-hots
which were a life-long favorite of my brother, Dave's—but in time he had
to compete with Matt and the other grandkids for them.
Mom didn't meddle with how we raised the grandkids, preferring instead to
cheer us on, telling us what lovely families we had and encouraging us to
take good care of them. However, Stacy does remember Mom, in a
grandmotherly way, giving her "permission" to let infant daughter Haley cry
during the night which gave Stacy the first uninterrupted night of sleep in
six months. "Her encouragement as a supremely loving mom herself
allowed me to take care of myself", Stacy recalls. Mom also gave her
permission to "enjoy a dusty tabletop every once in awhile and just write a
note of love on it to Jeff. There would always be time to dust later."
Finally, Mom used to say "Life is too short". That puts things into
perspective, doesn't it? Life is too short to spend it majoring in the minors.
Life is too short to hold a grudge or to dote on regrets. Life is too short to
let opportunities to love and to serve slip away. Stated another way, our
time is too precious to spend it complaining when we could be grateful,
wallowing in selfishness when we could be helping others, keeping God at
arm's length when we could be walking hand-in-hand with Him.
Many years ago, Mom was at the local Shell station at Lake and
Kensington in Rocky River, when owner Bill Cairns thought to ask her if
she was born again. She was dumbfounded. I don't think she even knew
what that meant. And that concerned her. The Holy Spirit had begun His
work helping her to see she needed a relationship with the God who
created her, a relationship that she now enjoys in all its entirety.
Doubtlessly, there are a mix of people in this room. If you find yourself
identifying with Alice at the gas station, don't ignore God's tug at your
heart. Give yourself to the One who loves you unconditionally and who
wants to give you life eternal.