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Naomi Kleinert was born May 19, 1931 in Chicago. Her father, George, died when she was five. That's when her mother, Bertha, moved with Naomi and her two sib-lings, Char and Wendel, to Phoenix. Bertha did this to be near her brother. She bought a house across from the Phoenix fairgrounds.


During the hot summer months, Bertha and her three children migrated north to the cooler climate of Sedona, where they camped beside Oak Creek. Naomi fished, hiked, and swam. She even helped rangers stock fish. Each night, they'd have a big campfire with other campers. They'd enjoy popcorn and telling stories.


While attending Grand Avenue School in Phoenix, the three kids walked a four-mile round trip each day. She started first grade but soon skipped to second. After graduating, Naomi rode the school bus four miles each day to North Phoenix High. That was the 1940s, when the city had only two high schools: North and Phoenix Union. In high school, she was on the state softball championship team. She won the Girl's Athletic Association State badminton championship.


After graduating from North High, Naomi went to work as a secretary at the New York Life Insurance company. She loved her job and the people there. After she married Gay, they made numerous fishing trips to Lake Mead with her work friend, her husband, and their fishing group. Sometimes they went for five or six days.


Women's softball was very popular in those days, and Naomi played third base for Webster Dairy, a minor league team. When the world's champion women's profes-sional team-the Lorrili Ladies, from Atlanta, Georgia-came to town to play the local professional teams-the Phoenix Ramblers, and the A1 Queens-the Lorrili third base-woman was injured and unable to play. The Lorrili Ladies asked Naomi to play for them at third base. She played so well that they asked her to join them and return with the team to Atlanta. But Naomi declined, preferring instead to re-main in Phoenix. Lucky for Gay.


Naomi eventually took up tennis and, without ever taking a lesson, became one of the best female tennis players in Phoenix. The Thunderbird Professional tennis tournament was held here annually at the Phoenix Country Club. The Thunderbirds asked Naomi to enter as a wild card. She won the first set against her pro opponent, who told her, "It won't matter if you win or lose, but I'm on the pro circuit. So I need to win." Naomi said: "I'll never get to play in this again, so if I can beat you, I will." And she did.


Shortly afterward, Naomi met her future husband, Gay King, on a blind date at the popular Riverside Ballroom (long gone) on Central Avenue, just north of the Salt River. At the time, it was the biggest and most popular in Arizona.


From that day on, for 62 years they were almost inseparable. Four months later, they got married. Gay was with the girl he thought he'd never find. When he was a day late remembering their anniversary, he always had an excuse as she moved the wedding date up three times.


With the always smiling, ever positive, energetic, loving woman he never thought he'd be lucky enough to wed, they enjoyed many adventures. They often camped and fished at mountain and desert lakes, sleeping in a camper Gay built himself to go on their pickup truck. Their kids, Kathy and Randy, slept on beds their father built in the camper. They all loved it.


Naomi and Gay celebrated their 44th anniversary on a five-day fishing trip out of Juneau, Alaska. Both caught their daily limit of halibut and salmon. Naomi was the only woman on the trip. Their fishing mates were four Los Angeles policemen.


One spring, they floated through the Grand Canyon, braving the Colorado River for eleven days on a five-person raft. The evening after they punched through Lava Falls-a "10" of the most turbulent rapids on the river-the guides baked a choco-late cake in honor of Naomi and Gay's 48th wedding anniversary.


Together, they experienced Arizona outdoor adventures. They also visited 46 other states, in their Lance pickup-camper. They explored western Canada, guided by their daughter, Kathy. And, on their own, they drove all the way to Nova Scotia, where they visited Atlantic-coast coves and villages. They came back via Niagara Falls.


After Naomi taught Gay to play tennis, the president of the Phoenix District Tennis Association called them "a legend in the Southwest mixed doubles." They played in the Pancho Gonzales Sweetheart Tennis Tournament at Cae-sar's Palace in Las Vegas. They beat Darlene Hart, one of the best-ever women's professional doubles players, and her pro men's partner.


While they were in their late 60s, they toured France with Kathy & her husband, Craig. Of course, they all camped nearly every night. Once, if the air mattress they slept on had not been a thick one, they would have been very wet, because rain ran like a river through the bottom of their two-person tent.


Naomi NEVER said a bad word about anyone. She saw only the good in people. Throughout life's many challenges, Naomi's kindness and enthusiasm never waned. And to know her was to love her.


Until age 70, Naomi had never been in a hospital, except to have a baby. Then she encountered Giant Cell Arteritis-a rare ailment many doctors had never heard of.

After four years, Dr. John Tesser got it under control. At that time only 30% sur-vived it.


Then she had a kidney problem so bad that Dr. Ronald Hyde had her tour the dialy-sis facility and attend educational classes. But then he got down from a 4, to a liva-ble level 3.


Next came urology problems, where bladder cancer was discovered. She was a cancer patient for over three years. She received treatments at the Palo Verde Can-cer Specialists, from Dr. Halaporta and his staff of caring, compassionate nurses. They showed more empathy than you would ever think possible, and

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