Darlene M. Kleer, 80, of Orofino, passed away Thursday, March 18, 2021.
Darlene was born April 26, 1940, to Francis “Frenchie” Forest and Bessie (Smith) Forest. She was born in her grandfather’s cabin on Cedar Creek, in Southwick, Idaho. Darlene’s family moved to Orofino, where she started and finished her school years.
As a young teenager, she flunkied at Potlatch logging camps and the Cold Springs Sawmill. She also worked at the Idaho Inn on Riverside in Orofino. This was the beginning of her career as a restaurant cook. In the years to follow she was the head cook at Konkolville Restaurant and Lounge, The Ponderosa, as well as other restaurants in the area. She also owned and operated the Larson Dairy Bar on Riverside in Orofino.
Darlene married Louis Larson and they had two sons, John Larson and Tom Larson. They raised their two boys in Weippe until 1966, when they moved back to Orofino. Eventually the marriage ended in divorce.
Her love of cooking led her to meet the love of her life, Cliff Kleer. They were married in 1970. They raised John and Tom, as well as owned and operated Cliff Kleer Logging. Darlene loved fishing, camping and her garden. She enjoyed the time she spent with the Wild Bunch. These ladies always had a great time together.
Darlene and Cliff loved to dance. They had many enjoyable nights out with the Dance Club, dancing the night away. Darlene loved her time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was THE house on the block during Halloween that gave out FULL size candy bars. Darlene never knew a stranger and you never left her house hungry.
Darlene is survived by her son, John Larson, and his wife, Vickie; grandchildren Alan Larson, Amy Powers and her husband, Mike, Mallory Martinez and her husband, Jesus, and her youngest grandchild, Corey Kleer Larson; great-grandchildren include Erika, Alex, Kala, Nathan and Anthan, all of Orofino.
Darlene is also survived by her sister, Shirley Hockaday, of Yrecka, Calif., brother Johnny Morgan, of Broken Bow, Okla., and her aunt, Dolly Hulin, of Orofino, who she has spent many hours with the last two years. Darlene has many nieces and nephews and she loved all of you.
Darlene was preceded in death by her husband, Cliff Kleer, and her son, Tom Larson; mother Bessie Morgan; father Frenchie Forest; brothers Mick Forest and Jack Forest; sister Fay Parris; niece Tammy Thornton; and nephew Jeffery Thornton.
Cremation has taken place and the family is planning a celebration of life to be held at 3 p.m. April 24 at the Orofino City Park. This will be a potluck, so bring a dish and join us in celebrating Darlene’s wonderful life and love for all of her friends and family.
The family suggests that memorials be made to the Orofino Hospital Auxiliary.
Darlene will be missed but never forgotten.