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Palmetto Bay—Kathy Yelton Kleber, 82, suffered a major heart attack, but died peacefully on October 27, 2022, with her family by her side.
She was born on July 20, 1940, in Cincinnati, OH, the daughter of Guy L. Lanham and Kathleen M. (Anderson) Lanham, the fourth of five children. Kathy grew up in Cincinnati, until her family moved in her senior year to Coral Gables, FL, where she met her first true love, Donald (Don) E. Kleber. Kathy graduated Coral Gables High School, class of ‘58. Although Don proposed marriage, Kathy’s family needed her to return to Cincinnati and, for that reason alone, they parted ways. While working as a receptionist for General Electric, a handsome engineer noticed her and they began dating. Eventually, Kathy married Mortimer (Mort) A. Yelton on August 13, 1960. Together, they had three daughters and settled in St. Louis, MO, enjoying over a decade of life together, including a trip to Europe. Early in 1972, Mort developed a fatal illness and, on February 20, 1972, Kathy lost her husband of 12 years. She bravely continued raising her daughters with calm and comfort, never losing sight of her mission to nurture and provide for them. She wisely chose work that allowed her to be home when her daughters returned from school. She was a Girl Scout leader, active in the PTA, a deacon at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church and, with a conviction for racial equality, helped launch a Fair Housing chapter in her community. Kathy always had an outward focus and a warm, encouraging demeanor.
Then in the Spring of 1975, Don gave Kathy a call and they made arrangements to see each other. He flew up from Miami and proposed again, right in the airport parking lot. Although she didn’t say yes, she did bring him home to meet her daughters. Within months, she had rented the house, and moved her family to Miami to introduce them to his four children. Although it was a wonderful year together and their love was as strong as ever, Kathy sensed the time was not yet right and returned to St. Louis, where she earned an Associates Degree in Restaurant Management and became a banquet manager for several years. Eventually, she felt free to begin a new life with Don—this time she proposed to him—and on July 26, 1986, resumed life with the one who had first captured her heart. The rest of her life was happily spent in Miami with Don: together they fished, traveled, served at church, loved their family, making friends and admirers all along the way. Sadly however, Kathy lost her beloved husband just weeks ago on September 4, 2022.
Preceded in death by both of her husbands (Mort Yelton and Don Kleber) and Don‘s son Matthew, Kathy is survived by her brother Ron Lanham, her children: Valerie (Pedro) Mullan, Cynthia (Scott) Hovater, Pamela (Karen) Yelton, as well as her children through marriage: Donald (Suzanne), Arianne, and Kathleen, and their grandchildren: Shea, Joshua, Michael, Benjamin, Nathan, Janelle, Emily, Marlin, Anthony, Arianne, Angelina, Annalisa, Matthew, and Sarah.
Kathy once shared that she felt very shy as a young adult but, having been hired as a receptionist, decided she needed to overcome that, put on a warm smile, and connect. She has been connecting ever since. The world will miss her warmth, cheer, wit, efficiency and abiding thoughtfulness. She was a friend to all, a neighborhood jewel, a mother/grandma par excellence and a safe place to land.
Kathy’s Celebration of Life will be held at their beloved church home: Miami Vineyard Community Church (12727 SW. 122nd Ave.), Friday, December 9, 2022 at 12 noon. Flowers are welcome!
A private scattering of Don and Kathy‘s ashes to the sea will occur some time thereafter.
You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family