Loretta Mary Kemna

Photo of Loretta Mary Kemna
Mrs. Loretta Mary Kemna, age 103 years, of St. Elizabeth, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 4, 2020, at her daughter's home in Jefferson City with family by her side. Loretta was born on October 31, 1916, in Meta, along with her twin brother Ray, a daughter of the late Francis (Frank) A. and Catherine (Katie) M. (Strope) Loethen. She was married to Theodore Raymond (Ray) Kemna on August 18, 1940 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Meta. Loretta was always proud to be a twin and every story about her early life involved her twin brother. They were members of the first graduating class of Meta Public High School in 1935. After graduation she worked as a waitress at the Forum Cafeteria in downtown Kansas City. She came back to Miller County and began teaching at the age of 18 in one room schools (Schanzmeyer and Baumhoer Schools) and completed 30+ college credits at Warrensburg and Rolla. Her early classrooms were filled with children of all ages from families living near the school house. She taught at St. Elizabeth School when the country schools consolidated. Loretta and Ray were married, and they had their first child Gene. Ray was then called to service in World War II. While he was gone, Loretta carried on raising her son, teaching, working in a defense factory sewing tents for the war, and worrying about both her husband and twin brother and whether they would make it back safe. And they both did. They went on to have five more children. Loretta left teaching to raise her family and eventually became the bookkeeper for St. Elizabeth R-IV for 20 years and the St. Lawrence Catholic Church for 17 years and also loved serving as a teacher's aide when needed. Her main calling in life though was to provide a warm and loving home for her family to always have as a safe landing space throughout life. The door was always open and there was always something good there to eat! Loretta was no stranger to tragedy, losing her second child, Jerry, to leukemia at the age of 19, an infant grandson Kelly to heart defect, and her husband to cancer at the age of 62 after only 41 years of marriage. Her mantras were "No one ever said life is fair" and "You just have to accept what you can't change" and her approach to adversity was to "Just bowl through the pain!" She filled her time with her favorite hobbies: bowling, crafts, sewing, painting, crossword puzzles, creative writing, daytime soap operas, and traveling. Bowling was her absolute favorite activity and she bowled in leagues both in St. Elizabeth and Jefferson City until the age of 98. She enjoyed selling her crafts at area craft shows and actually got some of her designs published in a craft magazine. She also tried her hand at creative writing and got a story or two published as well. Her travels took her all over the states and to a few European countries. She loved children and was always a natural with her grandbabies. She was devoted to her Catholic faith, attending church nearly every day and leading the rosary at the nursing home. She could not understand how anyone could make it through this life without faith. Loretta is survived by five of her children: Gail (Leroy) Rehagen and Randy (Loretta) Kemna, both of St. Elizabeth, Gene (Virginia) Kemna and Kaye (Tom) Kremer, both of Jefferson City, and Cindy (Bob) Kochersperger of Overland Park, Kan.; 19 grandchildren: Scott Kemna, Gina Hodge, Amanda Wright, Doug Kemna, Jennifer Walker, Kyle Kemna, Tony Rehagen, Chris Rehagen, Ben Kemna, Nicholas Kremer, Sarah Gripka, Michael Kremer, Adam Saale, Lauren Stavenger, Danielle Millard, Kelsie Carnes, Caleb Kemna, Jason Kremer, and Kevin Kochersperger; and 32 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ray; her son, Jerry; her parents, Frank and Catherine; her brothers and their wives: Andrew (infant), Mac (Inez) Loethen, Ray (Mary) Loethen, and Vic (Lulu) Loethen; and sisters and their husbands: Tillie (Chris) Borgmeyer, Celia (Ted) Leavell, Lucy (Al) Schweiterman, Martha (infant), and Hattie (Carl) Dahlin; and one grandchild, Kelly Kemna. In light of the current social distancing guidelines, a memorial celebration of Loretta's life will be held at a later date. A private Mass of Christian Burial for immediate family only will be held at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in St. Elizabeth with Fr. Joby Thomas officiating. Interment will be held in St. Lawrence Cemetery in St. Elizabeth. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the St. Lawrence Catholic Church Restoration. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Fancher-Rekus Funeral Home in St. Elizabeth.

Published April 5, 2020