Darlene F. Klein

Posted 12/31/23

METAMORA – Darlene F. Klein, 94, of Metamora, passed away Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

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Darlene F. Klein


METAMORA – Darlene F. Klein, 94, of Metamora, passed away Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Metamora with Father David Kipfer officiating.  Recitation of the Rosary will be held at 9:15 a.m. with visitation to follow until mass time, also on Friday at the church.  Burial will be in the church cemetery, St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Metamora.

Born in rural Mendota, to August and Ella (Schmidt) Klein, on May 17, 1929, she was the second-to-last of 60 grandchildren of the Peter Schmidt family.

She graduated from Mendota High School in 1946 and on November 23, 1950, married Leland L. Klein at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church where she sang in the choir and played the organ. They moved to a farm northeast of Metamora where Leland had been born and raised 11 children, purchasing the property in 1969. Leland passed away on Feb. 14, 1997.

Their children are Leonarda Sherwin, of Munday, Texas; Virginia Duraj of South Euclid, Ohio; Stanley Klein of Tremont; Karen (Mike) Black of Knoxville, Tenn.; Sheila Bellingar of  Daphne, Ala.; Colleen (Stephen) Oates of Garland, Texas; Phyllis (Scott) Kinsey of Indianapolis, Ind.; Donna (Craig) Brown of Elgin; Russell (Amy) Klein of Metamora; Alice Leon of Wilmington, Del.; and Leon (Paula) Klein of Metamora. Darlene has 17 grandchildren, including Cpt Megan Kinsey, West Point Class of 2019, and 25 great-grandchildren, with one deceased.  Also surviving are many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

Darlene was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Leona (Joe) Lachat and Augusta (Antone) Smania, and brothers Emil Klein and Paul (Mary Ann) Klein.

Darlene has played organ for more than 650 weddings, nearly 800 funerals, and in more than 80 churches, six of which were in Europe and the Holy Land while on a pilgrimage in 2000. Beginning in 1955, Darlene directed the adult choir at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Metamora for seven years prior to being assigned the parish’s full-time organist in 1962. She was the wedding, funeral, and choir organist for more than 40 years. In 1979 the parish began a children’s choir, which Darlene accompanied for 25 years working with five different directors.

In addition to her service at the parish, Darlene played piano and accordion with Lloyd Schupp’s Rhythm Kings from 1956 to 1974; accompanied high school musicals in Washburn and Metamora; and played at area nursing homes. She is a past president of the Altar and Rosary Society at St. Mary’s Parish, a 2006 recipient of the Diocese of Peoria’s Pere Marquette Award for outstanding service, and was recognized by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women for her volunteerism in 2019.

Darlene’s non-musical accomplishments included gardening and preserving food for her family, creating a genealogy of the Peter Schmidt family, growing prize African violets, and acting as a judge with the National African Violet Society. Darlene was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Woodford County Farm Bureau, and served as a Woodford County election judge for 22 years. Her love of travel took her to 46 states, Mexico, Canada, England, Australia, and a pilgrimage around the world. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to St. Mary’s Grade School, 400 W. Chatham St., Metamora, IL 61548, St. Jude’s Children Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or Metamora Fire Department, 120 S. Davenport St., Metamora, IL 61548.  Online condolences at www.masonfuneralhomes.com.