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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

Jewelry store co-owner aided grade school

Helen C. Klena, who with her late husband, Henry, co-owned a Perrysburg jewelry store, and who became a grade-school volunteer in retirement, died Monday in St. Luke's Hospital.

Mrs. Klena, 92, of Rossford, had heart problems and kidney failure, her daughter Rosemarie Moser said.

The couple owned the Klena Jewelry Store for 36 years, retiring in 1978. Most of that time, the store was on Louisiana Avenue.

Mr. Klena's specialty was watch and clock repair. Mrs. Klena was the store's buyer, making sure it was stocked with necklaces, earrings, identification and charm bracelets, fine jewelry, and wedding rings.

Their daughters, when they were old enough, waited on customers. Mrs. Klena preferred her behind-the-scenes support role.

"What she would do mostly is come in and straighten and clean and keep things in order," daughter Rosemarie said.

Mr. Klena was at the store six days a week and had a watch-repair bench in the home basement. Mrs. Klena's support role extended to the home too.

"She was always home for us when we were there," daughter Helen Fix said. "That was her main job. She taught us our work ethic and values and family."

Mr. Klena, whom Mrs. Klena had married on Sept. 26, 1936, died April 24, 2000.

Daughter Helen, then a secretary at Indian Hills Elementary School, talked to Mrs. Klena that summer and asked her to help out at school. Mrs. Klena offered to pitch in if projects were brought home - envelopes to stuff, handouts to count - but was reluctant to be at school. Encouraged by her daughter, she went in.

"And after that, she was in - sometimes three or four days a week, 8:30 [a.m.] until

2:30 or 3 o'clock," daughter Helen said. "It opened up a whole new world. She was really rather quiet and really didn't neighbor much or join clubs. She blossomed as a person. The teachers were wonderful with her and gave her hugs."

The school even had a birthday party for her in January, 2002. Mrs. Klena retired from the school in 2005, when Mrs. Fix did.

Mrs. Klena was born in Lehigh, Iowa, and grew up in Bedford Township, Michigan. After eighth grade, she was a live-in maid for a family in what is now West Toledo. She later worked at the former Grace Smith's Cafeteria in downtown Toledo.

She liked to garden and to bake. At Christmas, each of her children got a large tray of her speciality: Hungarian pastries.

Surviving are her son, James; daughters, Rosemarie Moser, Helen Fix, and Joanne Danford; sisters, Bessie Krasula, Mary Zak, and Mary Jagos; 22 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Sujkowski Funeral Home of Rossford after 4 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in All Saints Church, Rossford, of which she was a member. The family suggests tributes to a church or charity of the donor's choice.



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