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Alzheimer’s Patient Back in California After Feuding Relatives Settle

April 3, 1996

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ An Alzheimer’s patient was greeted with hugs and smiles from family members Tuesday after his feuding relatives reached a settlement over concerns the 69-year-old man would seek assisted suicide.

As Dr. Gerald Klooster Sr. walked off the airplane his 4-year-old grandson broke loose from the crowd and yelled, ``Grandpa!″ When asked if he was glad to be home, Klooster replied, ``Oh, it’s marvelous.″

Gerald ``Chip″ Klooster II brought his father to Michigan in November after learning his mother had tried to consult with Dr. Jack Kevorkian about helping the elder Klooster die. Ruth Klooster acknowledged they had an appointment with Kevorkian but insisted it was only to explore their options.

``He never was unsafe. He was always safe. We love each other,″ Mrs. Klooster said Tuesday.

``The important part of this story is, if I hadn’t rescued my dad the whole family would be visiting his graveside today,″ Chip Klooster said.

He said the settlement with his mother and California siblings was ``a real victory. We now have the safeguards for my father’s life that we wanted.″

The feud divided the family. At one point, the California side of the family _ Mrs. Klooster, daughter Kristin Hamstra and sons Curt, Craig and Brett Klooster _ filed a federal lawsuit accusing Chip of false imprisonment, invasion of privacy and fraud.

The settlement returned Klooster, a retired obstetrician, to Hamstra, in Alameda County, Calif.

Under the terms of the settlement, Hamstra will supervise Klooster’s visitation with his wife for the next six months, and Hamstra and Mrs. Klooster will receive counseling in living with an Alzheimer’s patient.

The terms also say Gerald Klooster will not be euthanized, even if euthanasia becomes legal. No one in the family will cause, assist or consent to Klooster’s suicide.

The settlement also requires an autopsy when Klooster dies if Mrs. Klooster or any of the children request it.

Although the legal dispute is resolved, family members said their emotional wounds are far from healed.

``What’s ironic about this is my dad’s life was not in danger,″ Curt Klooster said. ``I’m sorry to see this thing go to the depths that it has gone. ... There’s a lot of bitterness.″

Mrs. Klooster said she accepted the settlement so her husband could return home, but resented the requirement that their initial visits be supervised.

``I am not a danger to him in any form, any way, and I never was,″ she said. ``I love him from the bottom of my heart.″

Chip Klooster said he planned to visit his father in California. ``Hopefully we can ... try to mend the scars,″ he said.