Teri-Ann Wallace

01/14/1950 - 02/22/2024


Obituary For Teri-Ann Wallace

The week before Teri-Ann Wallace died, she told her family that she had decided on a quote from an Emily Dickinson poem to use as an epitaph on her grave marker at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis:

Because I could not stop for Death--

He kindly stopped for me—

The epitaph perfectly reflects the last years of her life. Despite the assault of ovarian cancer for over three sometimes difficult years, she never stopped for death, leading the fullest and richest possible life, embracing an irrepressible optimism and joy, until, early on the morning of February 22nd, having talked by phone with her 99-year-old mother, Loretta Rusch, the night before, assuring her that she felt good and had had a full day but was tired now, Death kindly stopped for her as she slept in her apartment at Laclede Groves Senior Living in Webster Groves, Missouri, a month after her 74th birthday.

Teri-Ann was born on January 14, 1950 in Iowa City, Iowa, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Although many official documents listed her name without a hyphen (to her consternation), she insisted, from girlhood onward, that it was spelled T-E-R-I-HYPHEN-A-N-N! She attended Flynn Park Grade School and University City Senior High School, and graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa in 1972. She married Mason Klippel in 1974, had two sons, Mason and William, and lived in Glendale, Missouri until her divorce in 1995, when she moved to Clayton, Missouri to live with her mother.

She worked as a Library Assistant/Development Associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden from 1987—2000, and earned an MA degree in Library Sciences from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2003. She spent the next two years working as a Reference Librarian at Washington University before finishing her career at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy as a Reference Librarian/Archivist from 2005—2015.

Throughout her life, she maintained an active “bucket list,” traveling widely with friends and on her own to England, Spain, the Yukon (to see the Northern Lights), Canada, Hawaii, Utah and the Southwest (to pursue her interest in archeology and rock art) and Florida (especially Siesta Key where she enjoyed walking the beach and collecting sea shells). Her two favorite vacations involved country life: one week in Iowa when she was 12 years old, visiting her grandparents, Oscar and Martha Kamprath, fishing in farm ponds and gardening; and two weeks in Wisconsin at her brother’s farm retreat, looking after the goats and chickens and tending the large vegetable garden with her two grade-school-age sons.

A life-long book and mahjong lover, she organized three book groups and two mahjong groups which she attended faithfully. The day before her death, on what she referred to as her weekly “fun Tuesday,” she read her book-group book in the morning, played mahjong over lunch, operated the player piano (which she had had restored for the Laclede Groves residents and for herself) in the afternoon (she said ragtime music always made her happy), and visited a podiatrist. She watched her favorite show on the History Channel, “The Curse of Oak Island,” that evening, with little hope of ever seeing the unearthing of the storied “treasure,” but enjoying the archeological discoveries along the way.

She was exuberantly devoted to her family and large group of friends, endearing herself to everyone who knew her. She is survived by her mother, Loretta Rusch; her two sons, Mason and William Klippel (and their wives, Josie Klippel and Susanna Klippel); her grandchildren, Madeline and Hudson Klippel; her brother, Ronald (“Rusty”) Wallace (and his wife, Peg); her nieces, Molly Wallace and Emily Whelan (and their husbands, Todd Biggerman and Heath Whelan); her grandnieces, Ruby Whelan, Elsie Whelan, and Lucy Biggerman; and her grandnephew, Ernie Whelan.

The final lines of the Emily Dickinson poem above are sometimes misconstrued as expressing a faith in a conventional afterlife: after Death’s kindly carriage ride through his passenger’s life experiences, the horses pause at the grave, and Dickinson refers to a time when she “first surmised the Horses’ Heads/ were toward Eternity—.” Teri-Ann was an avowed atheist, though she welcomed the prayers of friends and family, embracing the love those prayers represented. Her view of eternity (and Emily Dickinson’s as well) was more like that articulated by one of her favorite scientists, Carl Sagan, who wrote that “the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies, were made in the interior of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.” In life, in death, Teri-Ann Wallace has always been, and will always be, for all who knew and will forever remember and love her, a light to light the way, the stuff of stars.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Great Old Broads For Wilderness ( https://www.greatoldbroads.org/ ) or a charity of your choice.

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  • 05/01/2024

    I met Teri-Ann working at Wash U libraries and we became instant friends. We lost touch over the last few years, but I am glad to learn that she kept up her strong spirit until the end. It was an honor to know her. Sending live and comfort to her family and all those who loved her and loved hearing about all of her adventures.


  • 5 TREES

    Richard Roehrkasse planted 5 trees in memory of Teri - 01/01/1970

  • 5 TREES

    Bettie J Gerdes planted 5 trees in memory of Teri - 01/01/1970

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