Honoring Carla Kjellberg

"I wished I could give a fundraising pitch as persuasively as she did; I wished I could name hypocrisy as clearly as she did; I wished I could wear colors as boldly as she did."

For more than 20 years, Carla Kjellberg has been a staunch supporter of Minnesota Women’s Press, and everything feminist, progressive, and anti-fascist. She has been a familiar face in our magazine and website, advertising her law practice since at least 2002.

We learned from mutual friends and her long-time assistant Jan Fridgen that Carla passed away Sunday. As her daughter Jeanne Stuart has since shared publicly: “My mom and the light of our world, Carla Kjellberg, died on Sunday after a sudden heart attack. She was only 65.  … To say we are devastated does not begin to cover the loss of Carla in our lives, a space that will always remain empty. Carla made the world beautiful. She leaves behind the love of her life, Dick Kaspari; her children Jeanne, Emily, Jonathan, Lani; and two grandsons Jake and Ben. … And Carla leaves behind hundreds more whom she loved fiercely, and thousands more whose lives she touched. … We sit with you all in love and sorrow, and will carry her forward the best way we know how: by making abundance, speaking the truth, and loving each other fiercely. And fighting fascism.”

Kari Moe shared with us this remembrance: “Carla lived every day full of love and determination to work for justice. She inspired me. I met her in 2007 when I started working with [Minnesota Attorney General] Keith Ellison and we became fast friends. While hanging out with Carla at her jewelry booth at the Powderhorn Art Fair, I saw her many dimensions. I told Carla I wished that I could make necklaces as interesting as she did; I wished I could give a fundraising pitch as persuasively as she did; I wished I could name hypocrisy as clearly as she did; I wished I could wear colors as boldly as she did.

Moe, former chief of staff for then-Representative Keith Ellison, had dinner in Washington, D.C. in late June with Carla and Dick during a long road trip they had taken. She says they talked non-stop about family and shared memories of three progressive politicians Moe worked for and Kjellberg had supported: Harold Washington [former mayor of Chicago], Paul Wellstone [former U.S. Senator], and Keith Ellison. “I can hear Carla saying intently that we must name the problem — fascism — and fight it with everything we have. Carla’s spirit will live in her family and her hundreds of friends. Her spirit lives in me. But dammit, we will always want another laugh, another hug, another speech, another call for volunteers, another demand to fight fascism and work for justice as only Carla could deliver.”

Becky Rothmeier, a long-time progressive organizer, says: “Carla was a thoughtful and generous leader. Daily she was fearless about calling out racism, sexism, and fascism, and refused to take a seat or stand aside no matter who insisted she quiet down. She was generous with her time, her home, and her network, and dedicated to electing progressive leaders fighting for change. Her example gave thousands of young and not-so-young people a foundation for responsible and active citizenship. Carla insisted we fight and keep fighting hard for what we want the world to be. It is so difficult when someone as dynamic and full of light as Carla leaves us.”

We are continuing to share tributes to Carla on this page. Offer your own below.

A celebration of life will take place September 10, with a two-hour visitation beginning at 9am and a service at 11am, at St. Joan of Arc, 4537 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis.



3 Comments

  • There was no one as loving or as fierce. It was an honor to know her. Love to her Family.

  • Julianne Markiewicz

    . My heart has been heavy since last week. Carla was one of my dearest friends and colleagues–full of passion and advocacy. A little spitfire activist! We have been practicing law in the fox hole trenches of family law for decades. We had a deal–if either of us had a question or needed help, and we heard from the other, we would drop everything and help the other. Many many laughs and stories. She is loved and revered by many, and will be sorely missed. Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart; everybody sees the wind blow – Paul Simon / POWER on Carla. You will live forever in my heart.

  • Paula Moyer

    My deepest condolences to Carla’s family and colleagues. She represented ne in a bitter, protracted divorce that involved an order for protection. During
    mediation, we were stuck with each other for three hours in a tiny room while the mediator met with the other party. We ended up getting good work done while each of us also coughed up what bugged us about the other. She also had the courage to confront the mediator about her unprofessional conduct. She never wavered in her support of my needs as an abuse survivor. Rest in power, Carla. Sorry you’re not around.

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