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Pat Kling
1946 – 2015 Obituary

patklingPat was a great person, teacher, coworker, and friend. The Caterpillar Crew is so thankful to have had Pat and all her questions! Longtime Alaskan educator and runner Pat Kling died Nov. 19, 2015, in Spokane surrounded by her family. The daughter of Helen Staadt Kling and Martin Joseph Kling Jr., Pat’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone on Jan. 28, 1946, foreshadowed “PK’s” life of adventure. Raised in Oregon with her sister, Donna, Pat graduated from Salem’s Sacred Heart High School in 1964, and Gonzaga University in 1968 with a degree in political science. At Gonzaga, Pat played on the women’s volleyball and basketball teams. After college, Pat served in the Peace Corps in Recife, Brazil, for two years. Pat cherished her memories of that beautiful country. Afterwards, she worked in Denver and Portland before moving to Alaska in 1976.

She earned her teaching degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and began a 22-year career at Barnette and Joy Elementary Schools, where she taught the intermediate grades and coached running. Her passion for long distance running began after she participated in her first Equinox Marathon. From 1977 through 1994, Pat missed only one race and collected 18 marathon patches. In record setting finishes, Pat won the race in 1981 and 1982. An active member of Running Club North, Pat was proud to win its Spirit of the Equinox award in 1996. For more information on Pat’s running career, check out Matias Saari’s article posted at

Pat adopted her daughter, Margarita, from El Salvador in 1986, and daughter Stefka from Bulgaria in 1991. A devoted mother, Pat loved to explore the outdoors with her daughters and friends. Margarita now lives in Spokane with her family, and Stefka in Tacoma. Pat retired in 2000 and moved to Spokane, Washington, and then Grants Pass, Oregon, where she enjoyed teaching students in the Caterpillar program at Pacifica’s Mobile Science and Nature Center. Pat spent her last years back in Spokane, participating in many activities with her granddaughter, Ella, including several special trips together. Pat loved to bike, run, pick berries, participate in fitness classes and especially walk her beloved dogs, Buddy and Molly Brown. In 2014, Pat and four friends hiked 150 miles of the Camino pilgrimage, from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. Until the end of her life, Pat loved to read, discuss current events and dish about her favorite shows, “Survivor” and “Dancing with the Stars.”

Her quick wit and caring personality made her many lifelong friends. Pat’s family is grateful for the many who stayed in touch during her journey with cancer. Pat is survived by her daughters, Stefka and Margarita; son-in-law Jerry Jennings, granddaughter Ella, sister Donna Knudson, nephew Joel and niece Kate Knudson, and many extended family members and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at St. Leo’s Church in Tacoma, Washington. Her ashes will be scattered on the family farm in Castle Rock, Washington, and on the Equinox marathon course. Donations in her memory may be made to Heifer International or the Caterpillar program at Pacifica’s Mobile Science and Nature Center, P.O. Box 1, Williams, OR 97544, or by clicking the Paypal link at the top of the page.

Published in Daily News-Miner on Dec. 7, 2015
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