Clara Elizabeth Bonnell Carlson Kleeb

April 22, 1919 — May 31, 2019

Beth Bonnell Carlson Kleeb passed away Friday, May 31, 2019, six weeks after her 100th birthday, which she celebrated with her family and friends who showered her with an abundance of love, praise and acknowledgement. As Beth would tell it, “I was born on the Bonnell ranch outside of Livingston, Mont., during a freakish snowstorm on April 22, 1919, to Lee and May Bonnell. My father had to hitch up his horse and buggy and drive through blowing snow to pick up the doctor. That was the beginning of my long and interesting life.”

The chronicles of Beth’s 100 years were overflowing with a giving spirit and a love of life. She met her first husband, Nels Carlson, during one of the summers when they were both working at Yellowstone Park. She was a lifeguard at the Old Faithful swimming pool and worked at the Hamilton Stores. Nels was a Lutheran seminarian student at Luther Theological Seminary in Minneapolis. After courting the feisty, independent Beth, he finally won her over and they were married during his second year of seminary.

Beth began her nursing education during her time in Minneapolis, but that was interrupted when Nels graduated from seminary and they moved to eastern Montana, where he served many parishes over the course of some years. Beth always had close friendships wherever she lived and treasured them. Beth was always very supportive of Nels’ ministry, plus she was a very busy mother of five children. She loved Nels up until his death in Lewiston in 1971, where he served Holy Trinity Lutheran Church as its pastor.

After Nels’ death, Beth began the next chapter of her life. She continued her nursing education and began her nursing career at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lewiston in the pediatrics ward, where she remained for many years. She loved nursing. She also was a volunteer at the hospital until she was 90 years old.

During this period, Beth met and married Frederick Kleeb. They had many happy years together, camping, traveling and many adventures. Fred passed away in 2009.

Soon after, Beth moved to Spokane to live near her daughter, Corinne.

How does one summarize a century of living in a few sentences? Perhaps these simple words will cover it all: “Beth always bloomed where she was planted and what a blossom she was.” We miss her ...

Beth is survived by her daughters, Corinne, Mary and Sylvia; her son, Nilus; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by Nels Carlson and her son, Dennis Carlson, and Frederick Kleeb. Our family is very grateful to caregivers at Riverview Retirement Home, especially Judy Baker and staff, and caregivers at Brookdale Park Place in Spokane.

A memorial ceremony and depositing her ashes will be at her birthplace, the Bonnell Ranch on the Shields River near Livingston.