Fritzi Walkey Klopfenstein, 98, died December 16, at Churchman Village retirement home in Newark, Del. The daughter of Mable Kintzley Walkey and Dr Fred L. Walkey, she was born on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1915, in West Lafayette, Ind.
Her three sons, John F. Klopfenstein, and wife JoAnne, of Newtown, Robert D. Klopfenstein, and wife Moonyeen, of Wilmington, Del., and Tom S. Klopfenstein of Colorado Springs, Colo.; her daughter, Nancy L. Culton, and husband Gary, of Port Orange, Fla.; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren survive Mrs Klopfenstein. She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Bob Klopfenstein.
Mrs Klopfenstein was a 1937 graduate of Purdue University. She enrolled in veterinary school, but switched to biology and botany because, in those days, women were not permitted in veterinarian school. While at Purdue, she sang on her own Indiana radio show and on the weekends with various Big Ten dance bands. She was initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta, Purdue University in 1934, and the PEO Sisterhood in 1937. During her senior year, she met and talked many times with Amelia Earhart. Earhart stayed in her sorority house and taught a course, “Careers For Women.”
After college graduation, she married another Purdue graduate, Bob Klopfenstein, a young chemical engineer. For their honeymoon, they rode in an open rumble seat of a car from Indiana to New York City for the weekend. Two days later, it was back in the rumble seat for the return to Indiana. During World War II, they lived in Silver Spring, Md., where her husband was assigned to the Johns Hopkins Advanced Physics Lab and the Pentagon. Following World War II, they lived in Cleveland, Weston, and then retired to Bradenton, Fla.
Mrs Klopfenstein was a dedicated naturalist and nationally recognized as a nature and wildlife artist. In 1950, she received a degree in museum science. She was an author and illustrator for the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks and the United States National Park system in Washington, DC. She was a founder of the Nature Center for Environmental Activities, Westport. While in Ohio, she initiated the term "Emerald Necklace" for the metropolitan park system ringing Cleveland. This term is still used today when describing the parks around Cleveland. Her artwork can be seen in private museum collections and in exhibits, brochures and nature guides along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke, Va., Cape Cod National Seashore, and Hopewell Village, Penn. She also has exhibits in the Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Fritzi was a gourmet cook, studying under Julia Child and winning many cooking awards. She was also a former member of the Ohio Park Executives, National Park Executives, National Pastel Society, National Herb Society, and National Rose Society.
Prior to her death, Mrs Klopfenstein was a six-year resident of Churchman Village retirement home. The family wishes to thank the staff of Churchman Village for the wonderful care they gave her during the last years of her life.
The family will receive visitors at the Doherty Funeral Home, 3200 Limestone Road, Pike Creek, Wilmington, Del., Monday, December 23, from 4 to 6 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be sent to PEO Sisterhood Chapter A, c/o Jo Elsman, 4830 Kennett Pike, #2505, Wilmington DE 19807 or Churchman Village, c/o Dean Reid, 4949 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark DE 19713.