Community honors Father Klimek on 10th anniversary of his death

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 9:56 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Monday marked a decade since the Eau Claire community lost a pilar, and he was honored with a special mass.

“He was just the most gentle soul that you probably would ever meet,” said Peggy Pendergast with the HSHS Foundation.

She worked with the man of God several community members gathered for at the Sacred Heart Hospital Chapel, Monsignor Edmund Klimek.

“I think the fact that we’re doing a 10th anniversary memorial mass says an awful lot about him,” said Pendergast.

A decade after the late monsignor’s death, his legacy can still be felt by the staff at the hospital he lived in for several years, even decades.

“We should remember that he was just always available, always there,” said Lori Vandamme, an infection prevention and control nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart.

Monsignor Klimek is remembered as someone who somehow showed up for patients in their final hours, ready to offer comfort.

“He almost had a sixth sense and to know what was what was going to happen,” said Pendergast.

Pendergast said the lessons learned from the man who she and many others in Eau Claire knew as Father Klimek, are still in good use to this day.

“I think it is the way that he treated people. We very much still do that. Everything is patient centered. We do everything that we can to make sure that that we’re taking care of the patient fully and and meeting all of their needs,” said Pendergast. “And I think that that’s the probably the biggest legacy that he left.”

“But those of us that are have worked with him, working with him, we we try to help emulate that and try to teach that to the newer staff that come along,” said Vandamme.

She said she will always remember the late Father Klimek as a soothing person.

“You felt calm when you were in his presence. Just uplifting all the time,” said Vandamme.

She appreciated the special Monday mass celebrating the pilar of the hospital and the Eau Claire community.

“We’re so happy that they’re doing this ten year anniversary and just celebrating him again. And just that we are HSHS and that’s who we want to be,” said Vandamme.

She and the rest of the staff continue to offer patient care the way Father Klimek would want them to, with compassion.

In keeping his memory alive, an award in his name is given to an employee at HSHS Sacred Heart each year. Nominees are determined by staff at the hospital.