Klein's greatest contribution to KMUD, though, was the creation of the station's vast and eclectic music library, which mirrored both her love of great music and her undying support of independent artists. Fittingly, her close friendship with a musician, singer-songwriter Karie Hillery, was what brought her to Southern Humboldt: the two met each other in 1982 in San Pedro, where Klein was teaching movement classes. When Klein attended Hillery's wedding here in 1988, "she fell in love with the area," and after Hillery purchased a duplex in Redway in 1991, Klein became her first tenant.

"She beat me here by a year," said Hillery, who moved here in 1993. She laughed when she recalled helping Klein move from Ojai to Redway, and packing "all the rocks and shells" that Klein used to both paint and make exquisite mobiles from – many of which were displayed in her back yard. Klein also painted watercolors and "loved working with children," even though she never became a parent herself; one of her projects at KMUD was a children's radio show. Before being employed by the station, where she had volunteered for years, she also worked at the Benbow Restaurant, Music for Little People, and the Garberville Theatre.

Klein's passions for music, dance, movement, and art drove her life, as reflected in her long associations with both KMUD and the long-defunct KBEY – where she met one of her best friends, Alicia Seinen: "She came in to apply for a weekend DJ job," Seinen recalled. "I was 23 and she was 39, and we were friends immediately. She was amazing… She had a fire in her that was unquenched. She laughed all the time." "We got thrown out of places for laughing too loud!" Hillery added.

Su Lukasha, who worked with Klein at Music For Little People, also reminisced about Klein's "unmistakable laughter," her great talent as a character actress and vocalist, the creativity that she brought to every social gathering she attended, and her sense of empathy: "She always gave a damn what people thought," Lukasha said, "and what they had gone or were currently going through. She had a way of making people feel they and their experiences were important, and had unique and profound meaning."

Nature was Klein's greatest love, especially the ocean, and in her last days, she sought healing and refuge by the sea. A week before she died, Klein took a trip to Gold Beach, on the Oregon coast: "It was really important for her to make the drive north, to be on the ocean for her birthday," Seinen recalled. "We stayed in these little oceanfront cabins, and I left her door open so she could listen to the sea. She never did make it down there, but she was determined to beat it, determined to live." Upon returning, they contacted Hospice and Klein's closest friends: "We all spent the last few days caring for her," Seinen said, adding that the volunteers at Hospice and the staff at Phelps – especially Dr. Kevin Starr – "were just wonderful to us."

Ironically, in addition to her love of the outdoors, Klein was well known for the zealous attention she paid to her health, including her work and living conditions. An intensely private person – despite her outgoing, occasionally forceful, demeanor – after being diagnosed Klein kept her condition under wraps, saying only, on her final show on March 30, that she was taking time to heal. News of her illness came as a sudden blow to loved ones, and her death was a shock both to friends and the community at large: "I didn't even have time to get used to the fact that she was sick, much less that she's gone," said Hillery.

"It saddens me deeply that she suffered so much, because she tried so hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle," said Fennell. "The fact that she left us so swiftly and heroically adds to her artistic legend, in my view. I hope she is at supreme peace now, flying free and unencumbered by worldly worries and hardships, free to be the wonderful spirit she truly is and always was."

Klein passed away at approximately 7 p.m. on April 15, in the presence of one of her closest friends and two Hospice volunteers. A Memorial Dance is planned for May, which will include live music and a ceremony. Musicians interested in performing can contact Johanna "Jo Mama" Hamel, P.O. Box 2134, Redway, Calif., 95560.

An independently produced radio tribute to Klein is also in the works, to include selections from her previous programs – including her "Swan Song" show – and music from her personal collection. Along with various eulogies from friends, listeners will also have an opportunity to phone in and share their experiences with Klein. Anyone interested in sharing thoughts to be read on the program can send them to Su Lukasha, P.O. Box 2332, Redcrest, Calif., 95569.

An account has been set up at the Community Credit Union to help with expenses; donations can also be dropped off at Kidz N More, 915 Redwood Dr. in Garberville. A date and place for the memorial will be announced soon.

Leave a Comment