Klas founded Tapemark fundraiser
Robert Klas Sr. is remembered as someone who tirelessly raised money to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Klas died in March at his Lilydale home. He was 91.
Klas and his wife Sandy were the parents of two children with disabilities. In the 1950s it was suggested that they institutionalize their children. The couple rejected that suggestion and became active in the longtime St. Paul ARC group.
Klas also was motivated to found and co-direct the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament in 1972. The three-day golf tournament is recognized as part of the unofficial “grand slam” for the MN PGA Section. Over its 47-year history, the Pro-Am has raised nearly $8 million for children and adults with disabilities.
Klas grew up in Wabasha, in a family of nine children. He held many jobs and owned a popcorn stand with his older brother. He also rode the rails looking for work during summer breaks. This strong work ethic carried over into U.S. Navy service and an education at Hamline University.
At Hamline he met and married Frances Alexandra “Sandra” Boardman. They raised six children. After college graduation Klas was hired at the small Tapemark Company. He eventually purchased Tapemark, building it into one of the premier tape- and adhesive-label printing companies in the Upper Midwest before transforming the business into a medical device and pharmaceutical contract manufacturer with end-use customers located throughout the world. Later in his career, Klas led a turnaround of WTC Industries, serving as its chairman until the company was sold.
He and Tapemark won many awards. Klas served on several boards and was a trustee for Hamline University, later being elected a lifetime trustee. The Klas family made many generous donations to Hamline, including a $7 million donation in 2003 to build a four-story multipurpose center and athletic field. Klas is survived by his wife, five children and their families, sisters, nieces and nephews. Services have been held. Memorials preferred to the United Church of Christ in Wabasha.
Cronin helped children, veterans
Bridget Cronin is remembered as a dedicated advocate for children with autism and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Cronin died in March, as a result of as a result of injuries from a fall at her St. Paul home. She was 50.
In 2014 Cronin and others founded Ars Bellum Foundation, a nonprofit to provide art therapy programs to veterans and military family members dealing with PTSD and related mental health conditions due to service-related trauma, loss and grief. She served as its executive director. Her father was a military veteran.
Another family member, a son with autism, prompted Cronin to lead effort to start the parent group Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) in 2001. The group evolved and is now the Minnesota Autism Center.
Cronin took on many other roles. She served for a decade on the Inver Grove Heights School Board. She and her then-Husband Tony Sutton co-owned several restaurants for a time. A native of Kimball, Cronin was also active in the Minnesota Republican Party and served as its communications director.
Cronin is survived by four children, her mother, former husband, siblings and other family. Services have been held.