Claude Eugene Klaver left his home on earth for his heavenly home on June 24, 2021. He was born February 23, 1925 in Kamrar, Iowa. Part of a tight German immigrant community in rural central Iowa, Claude was raised on his family’s farm until, at the end of WWII, he served in the U.S. Army as part of the occupying forces in Japan. His experiences in Japan crystallized his sense of call to the mission field so when he returned home, he attended the University of Dubuque on the G.I. Bill and received a Bachelor’s of Divinity. It was there that he met and married Joan C. Smith, the mother of his four children.
Together they embarked on a life of mission and service work that led them to Alaska where they served as missionaries in Yakutat, Willow, and Wasilla in the years just before and after Alaska became the 49th State. In 1965, the family moved back to the lower 48 where Claude served as a pastor in the small rural communities of Pardeeville, Wisconsin and Piper City, Illinois. Claude returned to Alaska in 1977 to become the organizing pastor of New Hope Methodist-Presbyterian Church of North Pole where he served until the early 1980s. Later, Claude served as the director of the Fairbanks Food Bank and started the Fairbanks Chaplaincy Association. He himself served for many years as a chaplain for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the Pioneers’ Home, and the Denali Center. In 1989, Claude’s first wife, Joan, was killed in a collision with a drunk driver. Claude demonstrated his Christian charity and forgiveness by visiting the driver of that vehicle in prison, rather than harboring anger and resentment over his loss.
This loss also opened up a new, rich chapter of Claude’s life. In 1990, Claude met Joanne Tilsworth and on November 3, 1990 they were married. Together they shared thirty love-filled years. They were active members of First Presbyterian Church. They shared a commitment to service and a love of travel. They enjoyed a number of extended motor home trips through the lower 48 states. They traveled together to Israel, Hawaii, Turkey, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. Most recently, they were joined by two of Claude’s daughters and their husbands on a cruise through the Panama Canal.
Claude was committed to community service. He and his first wife, Joan, started and for many years ran a Bereaved Parents Support Group. He was very involved with the management of Bingle Camp. He also was a great lover of the outdoors. He shared that passion with his family through camping, hiking, bicycling, canoeing, and cross-country skiing. His love for woodworking delighted his family with custom made furniture.
Claude is predeceased by his first wife, Joan Celeste Klaver.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne Klaver; his four children, Kathi Kuhns, Rachel Cranston, Timothy Klaver, and Coran Claudia Klaver; stepsons, Craig Tilsworth and Patrick Tilsworth (Natalie Monacci), eleven grandchildren, thirty-seven great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.
Celebration of Life will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 7th & Cushman, at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 2. Memorial donations can be made to First Presbyterian Church.