The Curry Coastal Pilot

John Ries Kleespies

July 22, 1940-May 14, 2014

John Ries Kleespies of Harbor, died unexpectedly on May 14, 2014, at the age of 73.

He was born July 22, 1940, in South Gate, California, to Clarence and Alice (Pauley) Kleespies.

John attended Saint Rose of Lima primary school in Maywood California, and graduated from Don Bosco Technical Institute in Rosemead, California, in 1959. He attended junior college for two years before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1960 and serving his country for four years during the Vietnam era.

He met the love of his life, Gretna Braynard, at Mountain Home Air Force base in Idaho, where he was stationed, and after a brief courtship of two weeks asked her to marry him. They were married on Nov. 20, 1965, at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Brookings. John and Gretna lived in Maywood for the first 12 years of their marriage.

In 1977 they were able to realize their dream and moved to Harbor to raise their growing family. John worked for South Coast Lumber for 23 years, until he retired in 2000 at the age of 59.

John was the patriarch of a large family with whom he loved to spend time. He always had a kind word for anyone he encountered and was a tremendous example of a man who chose to live each day to the fullest, enjoying all of life's simple pleasures.

He was an active member of the Star of the Sea Catholic Church and was passionate about being a member of the Knights of Columbus. John was in charge of the monthly Knights breakfast for more than 30 years and organized many other functions for the Knights. He enjoyed shopping and finding great bargains for all of the food and other needed supplies. Nothing made him happier than getting a great deal on clearance. He was also proud of helping the Knights to establish a local Fourth Degree assembly at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church. John was also passionate about hunting and fishing and loved showing his own kids and grandkids how to bait a hook or shoot a gun. He also enjoyed planting a garden and spent hours in the summer picking blackberries so that Gretna could make blackberry jam, which he loved to eat with everything.

John was preceded in death by his father Clarence and mother Alice whom he always called "Mother Dear."

He is survived by Gretna Kleespies, his loving wife of 48 years; son Perry and wife Kristy; daughter Lynette; son Eric; daughter Kara and husband Kevin Reed; daughter Shannon and husband Jesse Fowler; sister-in-law Donna Van Nest; niece Brenda and husband Jeff Frost; grandchildren Brad, Melissa, Ryan, Steve, Jon Ries, Kaylee Reed, Alice Fowler; great-nephew and great-nieces Allison, Carson and Olivia Frost.

A funeral mass will be at 2 p.m. May 24, at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 820 Old County Road, Brookings. A rosary will precede the service at 1:30 p.m. A luncheon reception will follow at the parish hall.

A graveside interment will be held at 1 p.m. May 27, at Eagle Point National Cemetery, 2763 Riley Road in Eagle Point.

Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at

Submitted by Redwood Memorial Chapel.