Grand opening kicks off effort to keep Klinefelter’s memory alive

by TaLeiza Calloway –

About 50 people packed into the lobby of the McDonald’s restaurant in St. Joseph Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the business and to remember Brian Klinefelter. Tuesday marked 17 years since the St. Joseph police officer was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle carrying three liquor store robbery suspects.

The business hosted a grand opening event Tuesday. Joe and Valerie Silva, co-owners of the McDonald’s said the restaurant will donate 20 percent of Tuesday’s profits to the Brian Klinefelter Foundation.

“The community has really embraced this,” Valerie Silva said of the event.

The foundation focuses on prevention  programs for youth and has funded scholarships for students pursuing a career in law enforcement. Tuesday marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between the local business and  the foundation.

Joe Silva, co-owner of the St. Joseph store, said the festivities were about more than celebration but remembrance. A former Chicago police officer himself, he said “once you’re in law enforcement, you’re always in law enforcement.” The gathering Tuesday was a reminder of this commitment to service no matter the department.

“This may be a grand opening, but this is about keeping Brian’s memory alive,” Joe Silva said.

Klinefelter’s parents, Lois and Dave Klinefelter, were glad to see so much community support. And the fact the Silvas never knew their son is even more touching to them. The Klinefelters live in Sartell.

“The support has been great and it was when it happened,” Lois Klinefelter said. “It has carried on. That’s the most meaningful part, that he’s not forgotten.”

From phone calls and texts to Facebook posts, Wendy Klinefelter Tragiai said the support has been overwhelming for the foundation and her family. She is grateful. Tragiai was married to Klinefelter at the time of his death. Their daughter was 3 months old when her father was killed.

“It’s just been fantastic,” Klinefelter Tragiai said. “It’s been a nice day of remembering. After 17 years, it means a lot.”


[/media-credit] Savanna Silva, 6 and Ashley Verant (center), 7 talk with Ronald McDonald Jan. 29 during a grand opening event for McDonald’s in St. Joseph.

[/media-credit] Joe Silva, co-owner of the McDonald’s in St. Joseph, presents a check to Brian Klinefelter’s parents and Wendy Klinefelter Tragiai, who was married to Klinefelter at the time of his death, on Jan. 29. Left to right: John Tragiai, Wendy Klinefelter Tragiai, Lois Klinefelter, Klinefelter’s mother. His father Dave Klinefelter is in the background. The business donated 20 percent of the day’s proceeds to the Brian Klinefelter Foundation.

[/media-credit] Valerie Silva presents a commemorative tile from the St. Joseph McDonald’s to her husband Joe Silva Jan. 29. Their daughters Sydney, 7 and Savanna, 6 (right) stand with them. She presented the Klinefelter family and other key supporters of the work to bring the restaurant to St. Joseph with tiles from the building to keep them all connected.

[/media-credit] Ronald McDonald helps Sydney and Savanna Silva cut a ribbon during the St. Joseph McDonald’s grand opening event Jan. 29.

[/media-credit] Wendy Klinefelter Tragiai and her husband John hold a check presented Jan. 29 to the Klinefelter Foundation with Klinefelter’s parents Dave and Lois Klinefelter (center right) and St. Joseph McDonald’s co-owner Joe Silva.

[/media-credit] Valerie Silva, co-owner of the McDonald’s in St. Joseph, speaks Jan. 29 during a grand opening event. The business donated 20 percent of the day’s proceeds to the Brian Klinefelter Foundation.

[/media-credit] A cake sporting the McDonald’s logo waits to be cut during a grand opening event Jan. 29 in St. Joseph.


TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.
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