Marie Dorothy (“Dottie”) Klekner passed away on November 15, 2019, following a long illness. She was born on August 19, 1927, to Alexander J. and Catherine (Delaney) Pearce, in Tottenville, Staten Island, where her father’s family of ship owners and captains had its base. She grew up in Perth Amboy, where she graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1944. She received her nurse’s training at St. Peter’s Hospital School of Nursing, and pursued advanced nursing studies at St. Louis University.
In 1950, she married Leonard H. Klekner, Sr. of South River, and they built a home in Spotswood. Through the early years of her marriage she worked at St. Peter’s Hospital. After taking time off to have children, she returned to work as the public health nurse for the Borough of Spotswood and the first school nurse at Immaculate Conception School. In those years she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education from Jersey City State College. In 1968, she became the first school nurse and health teacher at Warnsdorfer School in East Brunswick, where she worked until her retirement in 1990. In 1988, she was honored with a Governor’s Award for Teaching. She was very active in the East Brunswick Education Association, and was one of the leaders of the 1984 East Brunswick teacher’s strike, which secured a progressive contract that would serve as a model for other school districts.
In Spotswood, she served as a Den Mother in Cub Scout Pack 35. Inspired by the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, for years she taught CCD classes at Immaculate Conception Church. She was a member of the Auxiliary of the Spotswood First Aid Squad, of which her husband was a longtime leader. In the early years of her retirement she was very involved with the Spotswood Senior Center. In retirement she enjoyed travel to Europe, discovering the American Southwest, and winters spent in Hawaii. She was especially proud of her Irish roots in Counties Limerick, Laois, and Galway. But her greatest joy was her time spent with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Her beloved husband, Leonard H. Klekner, Sr. passed away in 1994. She is also predeceased by her siblings Elizabeth Munn, Warren Pearce, Catherine Ferry, and Alexander G. Pearce. She is survived by sons Leonard H. Klekner, Jr. of Spotswood, and Kevin Klekner, and his wife Paige, of Parkton, Maryland; grandsons Kevin M. Klekner and his wife Jacqueline of Silver Spring, MD, Brendan D. Klekner and his wife Erica of Baltimore MD, and Casey A. Klekner and his wife Sarah of Stewartstown, PA; great-grandchildren Cecilia, Iris, Nico, and Julian, and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to express its gratitude to June and Gee of Haven Hospice, and her home health aides, Lori, Barbara, and Vicki.
Cremation was private. A Mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 11:00 AM followed by interment in Holy Cross Burial Park, South Brunswick. The family will receive friends in the Church lobby beginning at 10:30 AM before the start of the Mass. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Spotswood Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dottie’s name to the Spotswood Public Library at 548 Main Street, Spotswood, NJ 08884. An avid reader, she always considered the library to be one of her town’s most important civic institutions. To leave a message of comfort for the family, please visit www.spotswoodfh.com.