Family, colleagues remember Dr. Klemek

FAIRMONT – Family practice was never a job for Dr. Terry Klemek. He dedicated his life to his patients to ensure they had the best care possible, and with his passing, he will be missed.

Dr. Klemek died Friday, April 26, of an aortic aneurysm, which allowed no time for any goodbyes to a man cherished by friends, family, colleagues and patients.

Klemek was 60 years old. His funeral is 11 a.m. today at St. John Vianney Church in Fairmont.

The Minnesota native grew up on a farm outside the tiny town of Henning, population 800, where he enjoyed high school sports and spending time outdoors. After graduating from Henning Public Schools, he went to the University of Minnesota-Morris, and then the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Medical Center.

Had he not been accepted into medical school, he told his wife, Nancy, that he would have been content being a farmer.

“We met in college,” she said. “He went on to medical school, and I went on to law school. We reconnected quite a few years later, when he was still in medical school.”

On Sept. 22, 1979, the couple married in St. Paul. In 1988, they moved to southern Minnesota, for Dr. Klemek to practice family medicine at Fairmont Clinic, where he would join two of his close friends: Dr. Steve Parnell, Dr. Steven Sumey and Klemek all did their residencies together.

“He liked family practice,” Nancy Klemek said. “That was his life.”

Taking care of all ages of patients, from birth to death, gave him joy, and he was glad to have the opportunity to do so in a small town.

“He was probably one of the happiest, humble, welcoming people you would ever meet,” said Kayt Klemek, 28, his only child. “… He truly loved what he did, and he was just a genuinely nice guy, with a wicked sense of humor, who liked to make people smile.

That’s how Dr. Tim Bachenberg remembers Klemek. The younger physician had just come to Fairmont Medical Center in 1996 to start working in the ER. Because there wasn’t an available office for Bachenberg, Klemek shared his for about two years.

“He was a great doctor, just a great doctor,” Bachenberg said. “He was a lot of fun to practice with – really smart, compassionate, funny.”

Radiologist Dr. Rufus Rodriguez also remembers meeting Klemek when he began at Fairmont Medical Center in 2004.

“Terry gave me a tour around town and around the campus. Needless to say, I decided to come here,” Rodriguez said.

“He was a great physician. His patients loved him. He was always very pleasant, and he helped make the medical staff a good group to be a part of,” Rodriguez added. “I always remember he was quick to smile and always good natured. He’d come by my office to discuss a patient, and I always looked forward to his visits. He always brought a smile with him. It was kind of the highlight of your day if you had the chance to spend some time with Terry.”

Klemek recently had begun practicing medicine at Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester. Nancy Klemek said he loved his new job, from his patients to his colleagues.

First in his life, above all else, was his family.

When he was not seeing patients, Klemek enjoyed traveling and spending time with his wife and daughter.

He was an avid wrestling fan, loyally following the University of Minnesota Gopher wrestling program throughout the seasons, and serving as team doctor for the Fairmont Cardinal wrestling team for more than 15 years.

“He never thought he was better than anybody else,” Kayt Klemek said. “He took it as a blessing that he was able to do what he did.”