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Dr. Alexander's Story

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ELK RAPIDS - On June 17th, a week after his 92nd birthday, Dr. Alexander Kloster passed away peacefully in his sleep.

One of thirteen children, he was born in Brimley, Michigan to immigrant parents, Anthony and Anna Kloster. Al, as he was known by friends and colleagues alike, served valiantly in both World War II and The Korean War on the battleship USS Washington and the cargo freighter USS Jupiter respectively.

After completing his military service, and without a high school diploma, Al was accepted by special examination into both the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. He ultimately chose Michigan State University and earned three degrees including a doctorate in education.

In 1974, thirty years after quitting school and exaggerating about his age so he could join the navy, he was presented with an honorary diploma from Sault Ste. Marie High School. Newspapers around the country hailed him as "the backward professor" and Al's favorite newsman, Walter Cronkite, even announced the story on the CBS Evening News.

Al quickly developed into an innovative educator, driving improvements to the public schools from the most rural to the most urban. He was a steadfast champion of students and teachers alike.

Although he served as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Marquette School Board President for many years, Al was most at home in the classroom. He held professorships at both Michigan State University and Northern Michigan University from which he retired in 1987. He is member of the Michigan Education Hall of Fame.

He was preceded in death by many beloved family members including his son-in-law, Clifford Fardell.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Carol (Fenwick), daughters Barbara Fardell, Susin Kloster (Dennis Jenkins) and Alexandra Kloster (Paul Graham), grandchildren, Jesse Rose, Frank Fardell, Caitlin McGee, Anna Corniel (Allen), Gertie and Clara Graham, one great granddaughter, Leona Corniel, a brother Anthony Kloster, and two sisters, Anna Parker and Dorothy Sponaugle. He is remembered by family, friends, and students too numerous to list.

Al loved the Great Lakes, the Upper Peninsula, the North Woods, and most of all, his family. He was a scholar and a storyteller, a man of strong faith and spirited curiosity, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was larger than life, and his life was larger than any few paragraphs could ever convey.

A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, July 27th at 12:00 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elk Rapids, Michigan. A luncheon will follow.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Father Fred Foundation.
Published on July 14, 2017
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