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Margaret Mary (Klempay) DiBlasio
March 3, 1934 ~ September 2, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old
Margaret (Maggie) Klempay DiBlasio died peacefully on Saturday, September 2, at a wonderful hospice home in Oakdale, MN, called The Pillars. She had only been there 5 days, but the loving care and compassion that she received at The Pillars was a comfort to her family and friends. Those who knew Maggie knew her from various times and places during her 89 ½ years. Born Margaret Mary Klempay, she was the little girl known as Peggy in the Lansingville neighborhood of Youngstown, Ohio, who attended St. Matthias grade school.
Her initials MMK are engraved on her Ursuline High School class ring. After high school, she entered The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown ministry, and was known as Sister Margaret Ann, teaching at St. Charles elementary, as well as Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney High Schools. Prior to her teaching at Cardinal
Mooney, Sr. Margaret Ann applied for and was awarded the Cardinal Spellman scholarship to study fine arts at the Pius XII Institute at Villa Schiffanoia, Firenze (Florence) Italy. While studying there, she had many amazing experiences that she reflected upon often throughout her life. One of her favorite stories that she liked to tell was of her meeting Pope John XXIII (who has since been declared a saint) as a young nun, and having the courage to "talk back" to him regarding a comment he had made about art. In the late 1960s, she received permission from the Ursuline Sisters Community to pursue a Ph.D. in aesthetic education at Ohio State University. During her doctoral studies at OSU, she was mentored by Manuel (Manny) Barkan, a leader in art education at the time. It was also during this period that Sr. Margaret Ann requested a dispensation from her religious vows and became known as Maggie or Mags to her friends and fellow students at OSU. Upon completion of her course work, she was ABD (all but dissertation) when she accepted a position at Purdue University in the Creative Arts Department. During the time at Purdue, Maggie took on another identity, marrying the love of her life, Raymond J. DiBlasio on August 20, 1973, in the university's chapel, and becoming known as Dr. Margaret K. DiBlasio. Maggie and Ray took delight in decorating their home in Lafayette, Indiana, on the banks of the Wabash River. They loved hosting family and friends and showing off their favorite places in the area. In 1978, Maggie accepted a position at the University of Minnesota, and once again, they delighted in purchasing and renovating a home on Summit Ave. in St. Paul. Their home was
always open to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, as well as a cockatoo named Brolly and two bichons named Bijoux and then Bijoux II.
In addition to her faculty duties, Dr. Margaret DiBlasio also became Dean of Graduate Studies at The U of M. She also worked for the Getty Foundation and was nationally and internationally known in her field.
Sometime in the early 1990s, Maggie was diagnosed with a demyelinating condition which became progressively worse as she aged and made mobility increasingly difficult. Ray passed away unexpectedly in 1998 of a heart condition, which left Maggie broken hearted, but not defeated. She continued to work until her retirement in 2004, and she remained active well beyond that time with theater group outings to the Guthrie, the opera, dinners at favorite restaurants, and more. In November of 2014, she suffered a badly broken leg, was in rehab for months, and by the Spring of 2015 decided she would no longer be able to live in her home. From that time on, she resided at three different assisted living facilities, and developed a passion for advocating for positive changes to the senior care industry.
Born on March 3, 1934, to parents, Andrew and Anastasia Diersing Klempay, she was their first daughter after having five or six sons (one of those sons was stillborn, and one died in early childhood). To James, Edward, Andrew and Thomas, she was their little sister. Two younger siblings included Raymond and Amelia. (My apologies to her brother, Eugene... .I am not sure if he was older or younger. He was the one who died as a toddler.) To her 19 nieces and nephews, she was first Sr. Margaret, and then later Aunt Maggie. To Sr. Mary Ann Diersing, her "double cousin" (because Andrew Klempay's sister, Mary, married Anastasia's brother,
Robert), she was "Cuz". To dozens of great and great-great nieces and nephews, cousins, in-laws, and more, she was the family matriarch who always asked how and what they were doing, what studies and jobs they wanted to pursue, as she tried to keep up with everyone's names and whereabouts. To her close friends and colleagues, she was always ready to visit and chat, especially when they came with a latte or two.
Maggie is survived by her brothers Edward "Butch" Klempay of Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Thomas E. Klempay, of Canfield, Ohio, her Goddaughter Kathy O'Connor Schneider, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by O'Halloran and Murphy Funeral Home on Snelling Ave. in St. Paul, MN. Friends may call for one hour prior to the service on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am, followed by the funeral liturgy at 11:00 am at the funeral home. The liturgy will be available to watch on the O'Halloran & Murphy Facebook page, beginning at 11:00 am (Central Time).
1n lieu of flowers, anyone interested is encouraged to make a donation in memory of Maggie to The Pillars Hospice Home, 6025 Upper 31st St., North, Oakdale, MN 55128, or to your favorite charity.