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The Story Never Ends: Kim Clapper, a testament to community service

The Daily American
The Daily American
 2022-07-01

Meyersdale has lost one of its kindest souls.

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And, while Kim Clapper, who died June 22 at her home in Arizona, hasn't been back to her hometown of Meyersdale for awhile, she stayed connected to family and friends and her beloved service organizations here. She and her husband, Woody Miller, moved to Meyersdale in 2008 from Colorado into a historic home once owned by her grandfather, Carl Clapper, along 11th Avenue and she soon became known for her community service and gracious smile.

I first met Kim back in 2017 during a newspaper interview when she became the Pennsylvania Maple Festival quilt show director, following in her mother Doris' footsteps. Kim and I became fast friends.

She believed strongly in seeing the quilt show continue and had such a devotion to her hometown. Even after she resigned from that role and passed her duties onto Grace Oakes, Kim strongly suggested I do a story on the young volunteer because Kim was most eager to see Grace become successful in that position.

I had also met up with Kim in the past few years when she contacted me to do a story on her Aunt Ferne Kinter, a former switchboard operator. We had such a wonderful afternoon in Winter 2019 — all of us together talking about old times. No doubt Aunt Ferne, 96, who she called her second mother, mourns her greatly.

And, then just a few short years ago in October 2020 after her brother Dave Clapper died, she contacted me almost immediately and we worked on stories together in his honor. She told me then that those stories helped her so greatly through the mourning process.

She also told me then that her and her two brothers were always close throughout life and always got along well. Now, her brother, Jon, survives his siblings. Together, brothers Dave and Jon Clapper continued the legacy of Clapper's Building Materials in Meyersdale until they closed their doors in 2019. Their little sister Kim was always close to their hearts.

"I would call her to talk and it seemed like she was always going into Zoom meetings," laughed Jon. "She stayed in touch with the Meyersdale Public Library, her knitting group and Bible study with her church through Zoom. She made it a point to stay connected to Meyersdale."

Jon related that after a six and half-year battle with lung cancer, she never let the diagnosis control her and remained positive throughout experimental trials and treatments. She thoroughly researched new medications and was willing to try whatever she could despite possible side effects.

"She remained very positive," he said. "Even her oncologist told her that the staff was going to miss her as a patient and everyone talked about her strong support system back home."

Jon's wife, Sharon, says that Kim was one of those people who "looked for the silver lining and was a problem solver and great listener."

"She was truly interested in what everyone had to say," said Sharon. "Kim and I talked sometimes three times a day and texted. We talked about what was going on in the community or an article in the Daily American. She was vested here. She and Woody and Jon and I became close through all this."

Kim and Woody had been together since 1995, when they met due to an introduction by a lumber dealer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, who sold to Clapper’s Building Materials. They married five years later in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Kim loved to sail, hike and travel the country with Woody and their dogs (Jumba and Bailey). They have been to all 48 continental United States in their RV, only missing Hawaii and Alaska.

"We had a really great life together," said Woody, who will remain in Arizona. "Our life was varied. We lived in Canada, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Arizona. We did a lot of traveling. Kim could work on the road and we went on trips for months sometimes. We went across the country five times in the past 12 years."

Woody says that Kim had a knack for keeping track of people, even staying close to college friends. Even an associate of hers from Italy with whom she worked in 1999 recently called Woody to express his sympathy. He says that she had friends all over the place.

"For us marriage was about companionship, teamwork and making adjustments as you go along," he said. "Even with cancer, we learned how to deal with problems and see solutions and opportunities out of it."

Woody says that Kim's earlier diagnosis of Non-Hodgins Lymphoma in 2001 taught them how to approach the lung cancer some better when it came over six year ago. He relates that the doctors told them that lymphoma diagnosis that went into remission didn't have a connection to the lung cancer.

Sharon Clapper explained that in the past few months when Kim knew she wasn't coming back to Meyersdale again, she wondered what she was going to do with her home. And, as things always come full circle, Dave Clapper's son Jude Clapper returned from Taiwan with his wife, the former Andrea Blough, and their children Sage and Max, and their new dog Maple, and they are now living in the home.

"One thing that happened about a month and half ago is that my nephew Jude returned home from Taiwan and it worked out that he and his family are now living in Kim and Woody's home on 11th Avenue," concluded Jon Clapper. "Now Jude is the fifth generation of Clappers to occupy that house and Kim was so happy. It was nice she got to know her nephew and his family were living there."

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