Colleen Klein, widow of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, dead at 83

Colleen Klein, the beloved widow of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, died peacefully on Tuesday. She was 83 years old.

The news was shared by the late couple’s daughter, Teresa Klein, on social media. 

“Today we said goodbye and will now celebrate the 83 years of life (of) my mother Colleen Klein. She passed away peacefully in the early morning after months of failing health.”

Klein was a dedicated advocate for numerous charitable causes throughout her life. In recognition of her contributions, she received an honourary doctor of laws degree from the University of Calgary in 2002.

“Colleen’s presence in our lives was a source of endless love and warmth. Her compassionate spirit and dedication to helping others were hallmarks of her character,” said Teresa Klein in an official family statement. “Though she is no longer with us, Colleen’s essence will continue to live on in the hearts of all who knew her, leaving behind a legacy of love and cherished memories. She will be dearly missed but never forgotten” 

Colleen’s other daughter, Lisa Pinder, said her mom was “forever the angel on my shoulder.” She said that her mother and father “can rest easy together in eternity.” 

Klein worked at a racetrack, a gas station, and then a grocery store as a single mother of two. She then met Ralph Klein, then a Calgary television reporter, in 1971. They married in 1972, and the couple remained devoted to each other until he died in 2013. Klein played a significant role in her husband’s political career, providing unwavering support as he served as Alberta’s 12th premier from 1992 to 2006.

Charlene Love’s late husband Rod served as Ralph Klein’s long-time Chief of Staff. Love said that she had been friends with Colleen Klein for 44 years. When she saw her on Friday, Love said that she was the same person she’d always been.

“She was the most loving person from the day I met her in 1980 until I saw her last Friday; she was the same person. Nothing ever changed with her. She was very warm, compassionate, and gave me a big hug — happy to see me and we had a great chat,” said Love.

According to Love, Colleen Klein was Ralph Klein’s biggest supporter, and he relied greatly on her opinion, which Love said was “very astute (because) she had a wonderful political sense of what was going on.”. She said that Klein stood beside her husband his whole political life, and the two worked together campaigning and the like. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith expressed her condolences and sadness in a post to X

“Colleen’s unwavering support and dedication to her family and community left an indelible mark on Alberta,” said Smith.

Despite facing personal challenges, including rumours of domestic abuse in the late 1970s and a controversy over a stock purchase in the mid-1990s, Klein remained a popular figure in Alberta politics and her community.

“She was not just my dad’s wife; she was his right hand; he didn’t function without her,” said Teresa Klein.

While many leaders offered their condolences and wishes to the Klein family, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault was not among them.

In 2002, Guilbeault and other Greenpeace activists climbed onto the Kleins’  roof in Calgary while wearing orange jumpsuits and installed solar panels, terrifying Colleen. 

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