Carmen Klug, 51

Carmen Klug, a vibrant soul who sashayed through life with a song in her heart and a garden spade in her purse, died Sunday, April 19, 2009, at her beloved home, the Nibler Century Farm in Leon, Idaho located between Uniontown and Genesee, Idaho.

Carmen Beth Klug was born Nov. 14, 1957, in Clintonville,  the third of three children of Harold (Harry) and Marilyn (Pip) Leitheiser-Klug. The family, which included brothers Jeff and Craig, moved to Portland, Ore., in 1959, and Marilyn died four years later.

Harry married Jean in 1964, and the couple added a daughter, Vicky, and a son, Steve, to the family. They later divorced, and Harry married Charlotte. Carmen felt blessed to have such loving maternal relationships.

After graduating from Can-by (Ore.) High School, Carmen attended Southern Oregon College in Ashland. She studied culinary arts, an endeavor that took her through many adventures in England, including a stint as a nanny, while she honed her skills as a chef.

Following several creative years in that capacity in the Portland area, Carmen relocated to the Inland Northwest.

On the occasion of her 25th birthday, Carmen received what she frequently called “the best present anyone could ever have,” with an introduction to Doug Cook. She and Doug married on Thanksgiving in 1987 and shared 24 years of joy, spent mostly rebuilding, restoring and working the Nibler Century Farm, which Doug’s family homesteaded in 1897.

They shared myriad interests, among them gardening, fishing, hiking and backcountry excursions on horseback. Doug especially appreciated Carmen’s skill as a cook; he considered himself the quality control adviser for her business, Something Special Catering, which she operated through the early 1990s.

Doug died tragically in an accident in 2006, and Carmen struggled in his absence. She maintained the beauty and pastoral tranquility of her farm, but emotionally labored without the help, inspiration and calming influence of the love of her life.

Carmen blessed her many devoted friends and their families with her blithe spirit, profound generosity and unconditional love. So great was her capacity for developing strong and lasting friendship networks, Carmen may be one of the few souls actually separated by six degrees from every person on Earth.

Her garden was a source of wonder and pride, as were her gourmet spreads. Acquaintances who experienced either counted themselves as lucky.

Carmen was a parishioner at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Uniontown, Wash. and was employed by Inland Telephone for nearly 15 years.

She is survived by her brothers, Jeff Klug and wife Chari of Oregon City, Ore., Craig Klug and wife Anna of Ontario, Ore., and Steve Klug of Idaho City, Idaho; sister Vicky Curl and husband Clarence of Puyallup, Wash.; stepmother Charlotte of Hubbard, Ore.; nephews Justin Klug of Molalla, Ore., Darin Klug of Ontario and C.J. Curl of Puyallup; nieces Kari Klug of Nampa and Elizabeth Curl of Puyallup; several cousins, among them Jackie Caplinger of Menomonee Falls,; a special friend, Scott Kress, and untold numbers of friends she considered family.

In addition to Doug and her mother, “Pip,” Carmen was preceded in death by her father, Harry, and stepmother, Jean.

A funeral Mass was held on April 25, 2009 at St. Boniface Catholic Church, in Union-town, Wash.

Donations may be made in Carmen’s name to The American Cancer Society, one of her many philanthropic and charitable concerns.