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Surrounded by her family, Kathleen Chmielewski passed away peacefully at the Gardens of Foley on June 17th, 2023. Kathleen lived a rich, full life, observing her 100th birthday in a joyful celebration on November 19th, 2022. The first of ten children of Joe and Frances Carlin Weis, Kathleen was born November 19th, 1922, in Sherburne County. She loved to share her memories of a happy childhood on the family farm. After graduating as valedictorian of her class of 12 at Clear Lake High School, Kathleen attended St. Cloud State Teachers’ College, taking her first teaching positions in rural Stearns County and then in Foley. In 1942, Kathleen and her sister Doris struck out for California in response to the need for teachers during WWII. Returning home after two years. Kathleen married the love of her life, Art Chmielewski, on November 27th, 1947. The couple settled in Foley, operating a grocery store and starting their family which eventually included six children. Kathleen’s life was one of service. In addition to maintaining the home for her husband and children, she was an active volunteer in the community. She was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church where she pitched in at church bazaars, funeral lunches and taught classes at St. John’s School. She delivered meals to the elderly, organized a widow support group and was a Benton County Woman in History honoree. When Art suffered a severe stroke in 1978, she cared for him at home for years before moving him to the Foley Nursing Center, where she became a committed volunteer. Every Friday she could be found reading the newspaper to the residents. She also wrote a weekly Nursing Center column for the Benton County News. And just last Christmas, at the age of 100, she gave a spirited reading of The Night Before Christmas for her fellow residents. Friends and relatives will remember Kathleen as a gentle, loving soul as well as a shrewd bridge player who often ended the day with the highest score. Her other passions included voracious reading of biographies and history and her abiding fascination with the many birds who visited her feeder by the park.
Kathleen is survived by her children, Joe (Linda) of Brainerd, Tom (Margaret) of Weaverville, NC, Ellen of Naples, FL, Chuck (Kathie) of Maple Grove, Pete, of Waverly, and Rob (Pam) of Foley. She has 14 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are brothers Leon, Kevin (Millie) and Denis (Jo) of St. Cloud; Sisters Donna of Clermont, FL, Lois of Palm Bay, FL and Marcia (Vince) of Hastings, sister-in-law Terri Chmielewski (Bemidji), as well as numerous nieces and nephews and friends. Kathleen is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Art, son-in-law Juan Cordoba and grandson Bryan Cordoba, sister Doris Arnold, brother John Weis, and sister Joan Hurley. The family would like to thank the staff at the Gardens of Foley as well as Moments Hospice for the loving care they provided Kathleen. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to CROSS Center of Benton County, PO Box 205, Foley MN 56329 or Audubon Minnesota.