Meet our Leaders
Karla Simpson – Chapter Co-Leader
Karla was married for 31 years and had two grown stepchildren and two young granddaughters when her husband, Randy, died in 2013. She was 57 years old. She was blessed to have the love and support of family and many friends at her side. Now, MWC has expanded that support, love, hope and courage to help her move forward into this new chapter of her life without the deep guilt, fear, pain and loss she once experienced.
It is the home to a Modern Widows Club chapter guided by leader, Annette Vogel Cox and Co-leader, Karla Simpson. The original chapter leaders became acquainted during a parent-teacher conference at the high school Annette’s children attended. Eventually, their bond grew stronger with each shared struggle as widows.
Their husbands’ deaths had changed their lives forever, but they were grateful for the chance to help each other refocus and find joy in their lives. They attended grief sessions together and met regularly, encouraging and supporting each other over meals and even during parent-teacher conferences! Striving to affirm and guide others widows to experience the encouragement and understanding they have received, Wisconsin’ s first MWC chapter was formed.
In February 2016, Karla Simpson joined Annette as the new Co-Leader after being an involved member of the chapter. They believe that heart-warming, thoughtful, and productive conversations, shared with fellow widows are extremely valuable. They reach out to other widows through MWC social gatherings the second Monday of each month in a relaxed, comforting environment. They believe that sharing one’s loss, along with learning to trust God’s plan for each of us, can lead to welcoming the future with gratitude and joy. Crossing the bridge from great loss to happiness and fulfillment in life is easier when accompanied by friends.
Annette interacted with other widows socially, choosing uplifting women that provided a safe place to laugh, cry and rejoice about life and joy that still surrounded her. She soon felt a calling to help other widows find this same support and encouragement after the loss of their husbands. After discovering Modern Widows Club on Facebook in 2013, she immediately believed in this organization and sensed it could be an incredible way to spread the help she has received after her loss. She has learned that “Why me?” is not a question to dwell on or to ever be answered, but your situation can be understood and accepted. She also realizes that “showing up” is the first and likely the most difficult step in growing and becoming stronger after loss, but from there you can find hope and begin to believe that you will feel alive again. Annette has emerged from a life consumed by grief, to one that one that challenges her to be strong, sensitive and compassionate to those suffering loss. She desires to walk along side other widows and to dream and be courageous together.
Annette has a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education and has worked as an educator in local health departments, hospitals and schools and also as a full-time mom for many years. She recently remarried her Chapter Two on New Year’s Eve 2015, and continues to be a role model for many giving back and empowering all who find their way to her chapter.
Grace has poured into her life and she feels blessed to have the opportunity to share in loss while gently exploring together so many reasons to smile. She is honored to help each and every MWC member, “live for today, while honoring yesterday.” Janesville’s social meetings will be a place to share both trials and successes, while affirming with gratitude our current lives and all that lies ahead while acknowledging our pasts.
Twila Claas – Chapter Co-Leader
Twila was married for 29 years and had two adult children when widowed at age 50. Even with the invaluable help and love of family and friends, it wasn’t until she found the companionship of Modern Widows Club that she was able to begin the process of moving forward towards a new future. Now six years into widowhood, she feels more ready for what lies ahead thanks to all the support.
Jean Lademann – Chapter Co-Leader
Jean was married 24 years. She and her husband, Jens, had just moved to their new community five years previous to his death in 2004. She was 57 at the time and had a grown daughter, from another marriage, and two grandchildren. Being in a newer community, away from family, with a job that was full of turmoil, she found love and support through friends and her church. She was blessed two years later when God opened doors for a new job in a different town. Being alone, the move was not easy, but helped her grow in strength and confidence. At the age of 66, she was finally able to retire and move back to her hometown after being gone for 23 years. It was there she found Modern Widows Club. Although it’s been 14 years since her husband’s death, she has had many changes in her life since then. She is now blessed with the support and many friendships through MWC. Something she could have used in the beginning. It has helped her grow and she has found new freedoms through the group. She also finds it very rewarding to watch new widows grow and find strength and confidence within themselves to go on in their lives. They start to blossom and find joy and happiness again. This is what it is all about, helping each other find ourselves and happiness again.