Deborah Jeanne Kleinow, 60, of Sanibel, passed away peacefully on June 12, 2013, at Gulf Coast Medical Center after a long, courageous struggle.
Debbie was born in Tulsa, Okla., on Valentine's Day 1953 to Agnes and Richard Reece, joining her 1-year-old brother Randy and followed by her younger brother Ricky a year later. Debbie's early childhood saw the family move several times before settling down to an idyllic time in Brentwood, Mo., just outside St. Louis.
As the only girl in a neighborhood of 15 boys, she developed a competitive toughness that served her and those she protected all of her life. It was in grade school that her native talent for visual art revealed itself in the form of sketches, paintings and sculptures.
Deborah Jeanne Kleinow
She graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1975 with a degree in sociology. Her first passion, however, was art. She "did art" every day, working across many mediums, and she spent her lifetime finding new ways to bring her creativity to the world.
She was also a social activist, supporting and participating in several causes focused on peace, social justice, equal human rights and assisting the less fortunate and those least able to help themselves. This strong sense of justice inspired much of her art.
She had a big heart and got great joy from doing a portrait as a gift or designing individual cards to send to those she knew could use some encouragement.
In 1978, she met the love of her life, Edward Kleinow, and they were married on May 10, 1980. For 33 years, they shared an amazing life together, celebrating triumphs and supporting each other through trials and tribulations.
She is dearly missed by her husband, Edward; her stepmother, Jo Ann Reece; her brothers, Rick Reece (Carol), Randy Reece and Donald Reich (Marisa); her brother-in-law, Bill Kleinow (Jan); her sisters-in-law, Mary Ann Stewart (Mike), Elizabeth Hillstead, Leah Biggs (Tom) and Jan Niemann (Larry); her children, Veronica Bilicki (Mark), Lisa Sanscrainte (Jeff), Edward Kleinow (Kim) and Jonathan Kleinow (Natalie); and eight grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, at All Faiths Unitarian Congregation, 2756 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to All Faiths.