Kathy (Kathleen) Kim Steinbrecher Clanton unexpectedly passed away April 27, 2023 at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. She was comforted by her daughter and best friend who were by her side. She was 65 years of age. She is survived by her children, Sarah Naji of Columbia, MO and Steven Naji of Austin, TX; her father, William Steinbrecher, of Valparaiso, IN; Brothers, Jon (Anne) Steinbrecher of Cleveland, OH, Paul Steinbrecher of Jacksonville, FL, and Carl (Nancy) Steinbrecher of San Diego CA; along with 8 nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by mother, Helen Keith Steinbrecher; and her infant sister, Karen Jeanne Steinbrecher.
Kathy was born in Valparaiso, Indiana on September 2, 1957. She grew up in a family that used education as a means for better opportunities. Growing up in tight quarters as the big sister to 3 brothers, she always carried responsibility for others. Early on, she used her wits to find her own path while still supporting her family and friends around her. She learned at an early age how to make a little go a long way and the beauty and richness of life that could be found through lived experiences. She remained a cheerleader for her family throughout her life.
She attended grade school at Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso, IN, graduated from Watauga High School in Boone, NC, and took a variety of college coursework at Appalachian State University, Valparaiso University, and Drury University. She married Sam Naji, one of her classmates at Valparaiso University in 1986. They settled in the St. James area and began raising their family, son Steven who is an IT professional and professional Ultimate Frisbee coach, and Sarah, who works in the university setting and has supported college student development after pursuing her Master’s for Student Affairs and Higher Education.
As the children grew, Kathy began work at Lucy Wortham James Elementary School in St. James, where she contributed her gifts and talents at the school for 27 years. She started as an aide in the library, and later joined Kindergarten as a paraprofessional supporting multiple classrooms. The school was more than a workplace for her, it became an extended family to her as she developed close relationships with those she worked with. Over the last several years she organized and produced the yearbook which she took great pride in. When she wasn’t working at the school, she could be found as a welcoming and friendly face to locals and visitors alike at Ed’s Convenience Store. After spending her days with 5 year olds, Ed’s gave her an outlet to connect with adults and she loved visiting with her regulars in the store.
Kathy was passionate about reading, fine arts and theatre, supporting social causes and women’s issues, and volunteering regularly in her community. She was devoted to the James Memorial Library as a member of the “Friends of the Library” and attended local community theatre productions including OAT productions and the Fine Linen Theater in Rolla. Kathy was proud of her son Steven’s accomplishments, delighted in spending time with her daughter Sarah, and loved going on adventures and road trips with her best friend Sara Ray. Kathy and Sara Ray logged thousands of miles over the years visiting family, friends, volunteering in areas of need such as Joplin, and exploring the Ozarks; the two were inseparable. Kathy was passionate about education, and community involvement. She considered herself an ambassador for St. James as she advocated for her school, her community, and her family. She will be remembered as someone who was generous in heart and spirit and was a selfless supporter of others. She had a lot of love to share and would stand up for what she believed in and to support those that needed help. She is greatly missed.
A Celebration of Life will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, July 15, 2023 at Valparaiso University Gloria Christi Chapel, Rev. Kate Museus officiating with graveside service to follow at Graceland Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to gather at the Brown and Gold Room in the V.U. Harre Union following the burial ceremony. If you are able to attend, please RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/KathySteinbrecherMemorial. In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to Kathy’s favorite non-profit organizations: monetary donations encouraged for the James Memorial Library, book donations to the elementary school, or support for the Fine Linen Theatre in Rolla, MO. Donations may be mailed to the Jones Funeral Home, 200 South Meramec St. James, MO 65559 or will be received at the Memorial Service.
Photos and memories can be shared with the family at KathyClantonMemories@gmail.com

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