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Marjorie Kleinjan

Marjorie Kleinjan
Marjorie Kleinjan

Eminent Homemaker

County: Kingsbury

Several years ago, Marjorie Kleinjan proudly painted the words, "Eat More Beef & Pork" on the road-facing side of the barn. This action that didn't come as a surprise to neighbors and family who know her - they understand Kleinjan's strong passion for promoting South Dakota agriculture.

"If consumers don't understand where their food comes from, someone needs to show them," said Kleinjan, who raised four children, crops, cattle and hogs with her husband, Richard on their farm.

This mantra was the focus of many volunteer hours and Dakota Grains, a business Kleinjan started in the early 1990s. Along with supplementing the farm income, Dakota Grains promoted oats and other South Dakota grains throughout the state. Through the business, Kleinjan gave cooking demonstrations at grocery stores and community festivals, she wrote and compiled a cookbook and developed many recipes and bread mixes that she sold in gift shops throughout the state and at the State Fair. From 1985-1995 the Kleinjans also operated the Re-Klein Inn Bed & Breakfast and pay hunting.

"That was a wonderful experience and there wasn't a single guest that we wouldn't welcome back," said Kleinjan.

Although she didn't grow up on a farm - Kleinjan's parents owned and operated a trucking company - she quickly embraced the life and industry organizations. Not long after she'd married her high school sweetheart, her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Kleinjan, invited her to attend a meeting of the Volga Jolly Bunch Extension Club.

"I always learned something new at the meetings, enjoyed the programming and developed friendships with many ladies throughout the county that I wouldn't have met otherwise," said Kleinjan, of the organization where she would eventually hold many leadership roles in including that of County President.

An eager volunteer, if Kleinjan sees a need in her community or an organization she belongs to - she fills it.

"Getting involved makes a person well-rounded. It prevents you from getting stuck on your own little farm. The world is bigger than that," she said. "To make the world a better place, we all need to become involved in our little corner of it."

In addition to Extension Club; where she chaired the Brookings County Extension Homemakers Safety Committee and assisted in organizing University Week for Women at SDSU; throughout the years she has served as the Women's Chairman and held many offices within S.D. Farm Bureau; served on numerous election boards, was an active member and volunteer with the S.D. Pork Producers and Brookings County Pork Producers; is a lifetime member of the Volga Christian Reformed Church and has served as a Ladies Aid member; she is a member of the Gideon's Auxiliary; participated in the Arlington Christmas Pageant and is a member of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Of all the titles she has held over the years, the ones she values most are that of "mom;" "grandma" and "great grandma." Her fondest memories on the farm are days spent working together with her children in the large garden, preparing meals, working on 4-H projects and giving them piano lessons.

"I enjoyed raising my children. There is so much that you gain from raising your children on the farm - the fact that we could all be together, working together," she said of her now adult children; Marvin Kleinjan, Barbara Cok, Bonny Arseneau and Joy Howe.

When her children were old enough, Kleinjan encouraged them to become involved in 4-H.

"It all starts with the 4-H Creed, 'I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty and my hands to larger service and my health to better living...' I thought if they were involved in those things, along with a strong faith in God, they were going to be well-rounded and not fall too far astray,'" she said.

Kleinjan celebrates her own faith through her love of music. She is head organist at her church and organist at two other churches. Many Sundays Kleinjan can be found playing the organ for two congregations before noon.

Always on the move, Kleinjan enjoyed cooking elaborate meals for her family, sewing clothing for herself and her children and, to this day, brings knitting or other handiwork with her when she and her husband take one of their many day trips to see sites throughout South Dakota.

A few years ago they traversed the state visiting all 66 counties to check out landmarks they'd read about in South Dakota magazine.

"We enjoy traveling and discovering new things. The best part of these drives was the people we would meet along the way," said Kleinjan.

Today Kleinjan and her husband live in Arlington where they own and operate the Arlington Laundromat and she does mending. They remain actively involved in several organizations and she works full-time as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Golden Living Center.