We have gathered here today to mourn the loss and to celebrate the life of Donna Raye Kleinkopf. We are here not only to say good-bye but also to reaffirm our faith, and to gain an eternal perspective, so we can rejoice in hope, even in the sadness of loss.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, we bow before you this day and acknowledge you as the one who gives life and the one who takes it away. You brought Donna into the world and it was You who took her home. We thank you for the blessing of her life even as we rejoice in the life that is to come.
Help us this day to remember, to rejoice, to hope, and to know that comfort that comes from you alone. We ask in Jesus Name, Amen.
Our help comes from the Lord so we turn to His Word to be reminded of Donna as a mother and as we remember the hope to which we are called.
[Proverbs 31:10-31 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10]
Donna Raye Kleinkopf was born on February 2, 1936 in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas to Ernest and J. Ruth Tharpe Louderman. She was always proud of the fact that her dad was a Pastor. She learned early on to be content. They didn’t have much money but what they did have was priceless.
She was close to and cherished her siblings but from birth she and her identifcal twin sister Dixie were as one. They dressed alike all the way through High School and occasionally passed themselves off as each other. Donna was the more quiet of the two. As sisters they shared each other’s joys and felt each other’s pains. They never had a serious argument.
On February 27, 1955 Donna married Donald E. Kleinkopf after dating him throughout High School. He was her first real date and her only love interest. The day of her marriage was a very difficult day for Dixie. Not that she didn’t love Don, she was simply going to miss not having her sister around as much.
Don and Donna shared many good times together. Donna always knew what was going on in the farm but only drove a tractor when absolutely necessary. She had dinner on the table at noon every day whether you were there to eat it or not! Donna was happy to let Don run the household except for the time she had trouble with the riding lawnmower. She had to jump off of the thing right before it went over the cliff. She insisted Don go out to get her a Deere Riding mower immediately! Donna loved and cared for her husband Don to the day he died of cancer on November 9, 1999.
Donna was an attentive mother. She had a good sense of humor and always was there to support her children in whatever they were doing. She was the disciplinarian in the home and the tool of her trade was a fly-swatter. Donna also loved her niece and nephew, Dawna Kay and Tim. She agreed with the study that found that the children of identical twins are genetically half brothers and sisters as well as first cousins. Dixie helped Donna with her children and Donna also helped Dixie with hers.
As Grandchildren came along, they quickly learned that Grandma was on their side. She always had Pepsi (which also served as Donna’s coffee), candy bars, Spaghetti O’s, and Macaroni and Cheese on hand for them. She gladly spent many hours sitting on bleachers cheering at games or other activities. She loved spending time with her Grandchildren and was quick to share their joy or their sorrow.
Every Christmas Eve Donna’s family and Dixie’s family would spend the night and they would celebrate Christmas morning together at one house or the other. As the families grew this became quite a crowd trying to find places to sleep between the two homes. There were 25 or more people staying overnight even though many of those people only live a couple of miles away. No one wanted to miss this special family celebration. This practice continued up to just 7-8 years ago when the families got to be too big.
Donna was an active woman. She loved to sew, counter cross-stitch, quilt and do any number of handcrafts. After Don died she enjoyed he Tuesday lunch bunch and enjoyed the various places they would go for lunch and their trips to Branson for the shows. Donna was a person who was quite content with a bologna sandwich, but she enjoyed visiting with the girls. The same was true of the Sew and So Club. She was one of the charter members of the club. At the beginning the group would get together to do their sewing. It was fun to work and visit at the same time. Soon there was more visiting than sewing, then there was no sewing at all. As Kevin said, Donna was in involved in Social Networking long before Facebook came along.
Serving the Lord was an important part of the Kleinkopf household. Donna came to faith early in her life and rededicated her life to his service at around the age of 11. Her faith was much more than pious words. She meant what she said. She loved serving at her church. When the doors were open for something Donna was usually there. She played the piano, sang in the choir and the Joy-Bells, and took several turns as VBS Director. Donna was ready and eager to share her faith with others. During her time with cancer Donna said Sundays were really long when she couldn’t be in church. She was attending Faith Fellowship Church in Tennessee IL at the time of her death.
Donna was a woman who liked to bring people together. She was not one to make critical remarks. She didn’t want to hurt anyone. She would let you know what she thought of something by saying “Yeah Right!” or “Ohhhh?” Depending on the inflection you could know what she was thinking.
Donna enjoyed watching sports and was an avid Cubs fan (which says something about her character and her ability to endure hardship). She enjoyed watching football and also Tennis. When the Olympics were on she looked forward to following the games. She also enjoyed watching the Food Network and Oprah.
When Donna received her cancer diagnosis it was hard because she had watched Don die of cancer. She knew what was ahead of her. However, she refused to be negative. She believed wholeheartedly that God works everything for the good in the lives of those who trust in Him (Romans 8:28). She was not afraid of dying. She knew where she was going. She didn’t look forward to the process of dying but remained positive throughout her illness. She passed away on Saturday, October 23 at 10:35 p.m. at the Great River Hospice House. She died right after she found out the Giants had beat the Phillies. She was 74.
Donna is survived by
- 1 Son; Kevin and Lisa Kleinkopf, Colchester,
- 1 Daughter; Kelley and Randy Coplan, Colchester,
- 6 Grandchildren; Chris Coplan, Jeff and Glynnis Coplan, Jason Coplan, Anna and Ryan Sykes, Cindy Kleinkopf and Sonya Kleinkopf,
- 2 – Step Grandchildren; Tasha Giddings and Trent Giddings,
- 2 – Great Grandchildren; Denver Mitchell and Braden Coplan,
- 2 – Brothers; Jim Louderman, Galesburg , Max and Marge Louderman, Springfield,
- 1 Sister; Dixie and Wayne Hightower, Colchester
- 4 – Sister In Laws; Margaret Louderman, Pat Schisler, Sharon Bloomfield, Curlene Booz.
- She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband,
- 1 – Brother; Dwight Louderman,
- 1 – Sister in law; Shirley Louderman
- and 1 – Infant Son; Danny Lane Kleinkopf.
SONG: God’s Family
There is a distinctively different tone that inhabits the funeral of one who truly trusts Christ. There are bright colors of joy mixed in with the deep colors in the tapestry of grief at such funerals.
I am sure that Donna Kleinkopf would want you to miss her. Grief and sadness at loss is an expression of love at such times. But she would also want you to know that this is not the end of her story. In many ways, as C.S. Lewis said, her earthly life was only the title page of the real story in which each chapter is better than the last.
I think the Apostle Paul reveals the right attitude in the book of Philippians. Paul was in prison. He knew that at any moment he might hear soldiers coming down the hallway to take him to his execution. It had already happened to many Christians and the possibility was great that it might happen to him. As Paul thought about the prospect of death he wrote these wonderful words,
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. [Philippians 1:21-27]
This was Paul’s struggle: He didn’t know what to pray for. Should he pray that he live so he could continue to live his life to honor and serve Jesus Christ? Or should he eagerly prepare for death and the joy that would come from meeting Christ? Paul believed God still had work for him to do. Paul was right. He did not die in the Philippian jail. He was to serve the Lord for several more years before he was able to meet the Lord.
I picture Donna’s battle with cancer much like Paul’s battle in the prison. Donna was not afraid to die. In fact, last Saturday night Donna finally was granted the joy of meeting the Lord whom she had served all her life. Throughout her treatments Donna felt every day was God’s way of saying there was more work to be done. She served faithfully when she was in pain and when she was not. She understood that in the life of the Christian there are no accidents. God works as He sees fit to accomplish His purpose in our lives. Donna Kleinkopf submitted to God’s purpose.
In Revelation 7 we are granted this great picture of life in Heaven for those who have served the Lord faithfully,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” In other words, imagine the best place there is. Imagine the peace, the joy, the rest, the acceptance, the fulfillment, the satisfaction, the love, and the celebration. Imagine the best place you can think of…..and then remind yourself that Heaven is way better than what you imagine. It is better than that first step as a child into Disneyworld. It is better than the moment you fell in love. It is better than the day you slept in your new home. It is better than the first time your held your child in your arms. It is even better than a family gathering at Christmas. This better place is where Donna is today.
Please understand. I am not suggesting that you should not feel sad today. Loss and separation are painful. Tears are given to us by God. Jesus cried at the grave of Lazarus and He knew he was going to see Lazarus in just a few minutes! Feel no shame for your tears and that sense of emptiness that comes with losing something significant in your life. The death of those we love is hard and increases our own longing for Heaven.
What I want to remind you of today is Donna’s perspective. If you see this through her eyes, the battle has not been lost . . . it has been won. She “fought the good fight, she finished the course, she kept the faith and now there is in store for her the crown of righteousness which the Lord Himself will award her. (2 Tim 4:7,8) Last Saturday was not a bad day for Donna Kleinkopf, it was the very best of days. We grieve, but our grief is for our loss . . . not hers.
As I said, there is a distinct difference in the funeral of a believer and an unbeliever. For the person who has put their trust in Christ, it is a time of victory. For those who have not trusted Christ it is a time of deepest sorrow.
I believe Donna would want me to tell you this: If you are still playing at faith. If you are resisting God; if you are still under the illusion that you can be good enough to get into Heaven; please use this day as your turning point. Stop and be honest with yourself and with God. Recognize that there is no possible way that you can deserve to go to Heaven based on the way you live your life. It doesn’t matter how popular you are or how well people think of you in the community. Your only hope is for someone to save you from the reckless path on which you travel. The only One who can do that is Jesus Christ.
I invite and encourage you to stop running from Him and instead run TO Him. Let Him save you. Let Him change you. Let Him lead you in a life that will honor Him, fulfill you, and guarantee you life beyond the grave. Talk to Him. Let God know that you are ready to be His . . .forever. I think Donna would want you to know that she hopes to see in the Father’s house.
Until that great reunion it is our job to continue to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. It is our job to carry on the heritage of faithfulness. The baton has been passed and now we must run the race that is set before each of us. And as we do, it’s OK to pause now and then to,
- Look for Donna in the window of the house as you drive by
- To long for her homemade noodles, her German Chocolate pie, and her oyster dressing.
- To remember her faithfulness as you pick up your Daily Bread devotional
- To be tempted to give her a call to let her know what it going on
- To laugh about her candy drawer
- To miss her in the church pew
- To think about her whenever you see a can of Spaghetti O’s
- To smile every time you hear someone say, “Ohhhh?”
- And it’s OK to look forward to that day when we will see her again.
Song “What A Day That Will Be”
Before I pray the family would like to invite all of you to join them for a lunch at the Argyle Bible Church following the committal service right next to the church. They would love to have the time to visit with you.
Let’s pray together.
Father, you have blessed us richly through the life of Donna Kleinkopf. We rejoice to think that she has been welcomed into your kingdom because of the work of mercy and grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Please convey to Donna how much she is missed, respected, and loved.
Lord I pray for any here who may not know this joy. I pray for those who are reluctant to trust and follow you. Give them the understanding of your Spirit and the courage to turn and follow You today.
I pray for this family. An important piece in the family has been taken away. Please comfort them in their time of loss. Grant them wonderful memories. Grant that they may share great stories for decades to come. Keep Donna’s faith as an example before them. Draw the family together and use them as an instrument of your grace. We ask in the name of Christ. Amen.