BELOIT—Frederick G. Klett Jr., 87, of Beloit, Wis., a longtime prominent businessman, community leader and philanthropist, died Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.
Over a long and distinguished life Mr. Klett served his country honorably in the U.S. Army, built a successful business in Beloit, gave his time and talent to his church and community leadership roles, and donated generously to support numerous community causes and institutions. More than all his accomplishments, though, he took the most pride in being a devoted family man, a loving husband to his wife of 65 years, Joanne, and lending a gentle but guiding hand to his 10 children, nine sons and one daughter.
Mr. Klett was born Oct. 7, 1930, in La Valle, Wis., the son of Fred G. and Iva (Sloniker) Klett Sr. He married Joanne Urban on Aug. 5, 1953, in United Brethren Church in Elroy, Wis. Mr. Klett served in the U.S. Army during the time of the Korean Conflict, and the couple made their first home in Augusta, Ga., living off post from Camp Gordon (now Fort Gordon).
Over the years, Fred and Joanne welcomed 10 children into their loving family, all of whom survive, Jeffrey (Kristi Rae), Frederick III (Nancy), Terrill (Karen), Kyle (Kristi Mary), Jaren (Leslie), Jon (Jennifer), Derek (Jane), Matthew, Stephanie (Bill Barth) and William “Benji;” 18 grandchildren, Jacob (Stefanie), Kaila (John), Karina (Dan), Erich (Ashley) Fred IV “Gus,” Andrew, Corbin, Brody (Sarah), Zachary (Jenny), Ginger, Anna, Alexander (Megan), Kyle, Elijah, Zoe and Trevor, and including step-grandchildren, Nicholas and Kelsie Anderson; and eight great-grandchildren, Talena, Alex, Charlotte, Kinsley, Kamryn, Molly, Riley and Zelda. Mr. Klett is also survived by his nephew’s wife, Cheryl (Ken Schneider), and their daughter, Tiffany (Mark Dixon); and nephew, Edward Klett-Pfeifer, and his son, Andrew.
He was predeceased by his grandparents Richard and Mary Klett and William and Edna Mallon Sloniker; his parents, Fred G. and Iva Klett Sr.; a granddaughter, Katrina Rae Klett; brother Edward, nephew, Richard T. Klett; niece,Tsuako Klett-Pfeifer; and a great-niece, Rebekah Pfeifer.
As a young man Mr. Klett was appointed and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Though he left the academy without a degree, many of the things he learned stayed with him, and “Duty-Honor-Country” became the organizing principle of his life and the legacy he leaves to his family. For many years Mr. Klett, after becoming successful in business, returned annually to West Point, generously supporting the Army Black Knights and the Academy’s mission.
Mr. Klett was an avid outdoorsman, spending many happy excursions hunting and fishing with his sons and friends. He was accomplished in his outdoor skills, earning the title of Master Angler by winning the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper’s annual fishing contest for a 13 pound, 12 ounce class A trout stream brown trout. His sporting interest extended to being a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Beloit College Buccaneers, Milwaukee Bucks and of course, Army.
Mr. Klett was a top producer in the insurance business, and represented the Prudential Insurance Company of America for 46 years, 10 months and a few days. He was the number one producer for the Madison Regional office year after year. In Beloit, he operated his own agency, Klett Insurance and Financial Services. He was a Life and Qualifying member of the prestigious Insurance Industry Million Dollar Round Table, and over the years received the highest honors the Prudential Insurance Company of America and the insurance industry award for achievement.
He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church for 64 years, and more recently, the River of Life United Methodist Church. Every Sunday the family was in town, Mr. Klett led his brood to church, where they were seated in the first row pew, sometimes spilling over into row two because of sheer numbers. His community contributions were many because he loved the Beloit Community. He served as campaign chairman for The Stateline United Way, meeting and exceeding the fundraising goal. He served as Ambassador Supreme for the Chamber of Commerce, and as the Chamber president. Mr. Klett was named to the Blackhawk Bank Board of Directors, and also served on the board for Madison’s Charter of Life Underwriters. He was a consistent booster and donor for Beloit’s YMCA and for Beloit Health System, serving the organizations several times on fundraising committees.
Most of all, his family will remember him as the “ultimate neighborhood Dad,” organizing and playing with family and neighborhood kids in many sports-whiffle ball, baseball, basketball, football and now and then, snowball contests. Mr. Klett enjoyed giving everyone a nickname.
Many friends and neighbors will remember Mr. Klett’s routine of jogging in the late afternoon at the YMCA for decades with his dear friend, John Byrne, with Jerry Magnanenzi joining them later. In his later years he regularly walked through his neighborhood, often with one or more of his children for a long walk-and-talk, dispensing the kind of fatherly wisdom and advice that will be sorely missed and long and lovingly remembered.
Funeral services for Mr. Klett will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, at RIVER OF LIFE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 2345 Prairie Ave., Beloit, Wis., with the Rev. David Carlson officiating. Burial will be in East Lawn Cemetery, Beloit, Wis. Visitation of remembrance will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at DALEY MURPHY WISCH & ASSOCIATES FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORIUM, 2355 Cranston Road, Beloit, Wis. Visitation of remembrance will also be from 9:45 a.m.to 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the church.
Memorials may be given in his name to River of Life United Methodist Church, American Legion Post No. 48 and Beloit Regional Hospice. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.daleymurphywisch.com.