Biographies | Carol Ann Klem
Life in a small town is often compared to a finely woven fabric, its threads representing the families, events, and businesses that comprise daily life. For the Village of Webster, Carol Klem was perhaps its brightest and strongest thread, in many ways holding the rest of the fabric together.
Carol Ann Klem was born in Rochester in 1938, the eldest of three children, and lived with her family for many years in the Beechwood section of the city. While she was attending high school at Nazareth Academy, her parents decided to move to Webster in a home they built on Basket Road.
At that time, Webster was very rural. Moving from the city to farm country was a big adjustment, but it gave Carol lots of handy excuses for being late for school. One of them, her daughter Mary Kay remembers, was “the Schreiber cows were loose on Basket Road.”
After graduating from Nazareth Academy, Carol attended Nazareth College, where she studied English and music. She was hired at Holy Trinity School on Ridge Rd. in Webster, where she taught first through third grades.
Carol was the school’s first lay teacher. “It was mom and all the nuns,” Mary Kay remembered. “It was really quite funny. I think she was very different from the nuns. I can’t imagine a bunch of nuns and my mom!”
It was while she was teaching at Holy Trinity that she met her husband Gene. How they actually met is not exactly certain. Mary Kay believes they were introduced by then-pastor Fr. William Kalb in 1959. But rumor also has it that Carol liked to drive a convertible in her younger years and was spotted — and courted — by a handsome young man who had an affinity for cars.
Whether it was Fr. Kalb or a car repair at Klem’s garage that led Carol and Gene Klem to meet, they married the following year and immediately started a family. Mary Kay was born in 1961, followed closely by Tom, Greg, and Doug. Many years later, in 1978, little sister Meg joined the family.
Carol worked through her first pregnancy, then became a stay-at-home mom. It was only after the kids had all grown and moved on that she re-entered the workforce, finding part-time work with the Webster Post, writing wedding announcements and obituaries.
At 47 years old, Carol Klem the journalist was born.
“I remember her starting with a portable typewriter,” Mary Kay said. “I couldn’t imagine she would ever be computer-literate, and Word proficient.” She did ultimately conquer that new technology, but “still had a knack for losing files.”
In 2005 Carol left the Post and was asked to join the Webster Herald as the Village Focus columnist. She had finally found her true calling: writing about the village she loved so dearly.
Before long, the name Carol Klem became synonymous with all things good about the Village of Webster. For the next 12 years, she was the eyes and ears of the village. Like a town crier, she used her column to cheer accomplishments both big and small. She introduced us to businesses old and new, wrote tender obituaries, and announced births, anniversaries, and birthdays. She wrote about upcoming events and charmed her readers with personal musings about small-town life. And every Christmas she penned an epic holiday poem that touched on pretty much everything and everybody in the Village she’d come into contact with the previous year.
Carol could regularly be seen around town, her little Instamatic camera dangling from her wrist, visiting with local business owners, or darting back and forth during parades, festivals, and other special events to snap photos for her column. It was a hobby that became a passion.
“The Village is the heart of Webster,” Carol once said in an interview. “I just love our town. I love the people in it and I love the spirit.”
Carol Klem was a huge part of that spirit.
Carol Klem passed away on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the age of 80. She and Gene were married for 57 years. They had five children, 15 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In November 2017, the Village of Webster recognized Carol’s devotion to Webster by proclaiming November 21 Carol Klem Day. It’s still recognized by the Village every year.
- Mary Kay Brophy, email with author, November 2017.
- Peter Elder, “Saluting the Village Crier,” Village of Webster Board Meeting, March 3, 2018.
- “Carol Klem – Columnist, Webster Herald.” Webster Together, webstertogether.com, Sept. 10, 2015.