AMerican Veteran 11

William "Bill" H. Klem, Jr.

November 12, 1924 ~ May 14, 2019 (age 94)


William H. “Bill” Klem, Jr., formerly of Summers Drive, passed away early Tuesday morning, May 14, 2019 at Wellbrooke Center, Roseland, IN.

He was born November 12, 1924 to the late William H. and Lydia Clower Klem in Rochester, N.Y.  Because his father suffered from asthma, they moved to Lakeland, Florida in 1926.  In June of ‘42, he graduated from Lakeland High School and that fall enrolled at the University of Notre Dame and was selected to enter the second Navy ROTC program.    He was commissioned an Ensign in September of 1946 and served on the destroyer USS Orleck at the end of WW II.  A year later, he married Jeanne Marie Yuncker in September at the old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, South Bend.  In 1950, he received his law degree from Notre Dame.  During his law studies, he worked part-time at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., with his father-in-law, George Yuncker.  He enjoyed the business so much, especially working with the public, that he remained full-time and retired in 1989 after 42 years selling “Coca-Cola.”  During the Korean Conflict, he was recalled to active duty aboard the destroyer USS Rich, returning to South Bend in 1952.  With a young family, he resigned his Naval Commission in 1956.

He will be missed by his wife, Jeanne; daughters, Kathy (Al) Large, Anne (Robert) Rettig, and Janet Costa; and his son, William Bruce (Rose) Klem.  His son, Thomas, preceded him.  In addition, Grampa will be missed by his grandchildren, Tom (Meredith) Large, Michael (Emily) Large, Matthew Klem (USN), Alea (Chalwe) Kaoma, Mikala Klem, Clare Rettig, and Kyle and Joshua Costa.  “Papa” will be missed by great grandchildren, Kamo, Chalwe Jr., Emerson, Anna, Luke, Aubrey, Zoe, and James.  A former daughter-in-law, Lynne Listenberger, also survives. 

In his leisure time, Bill enjoyed family get-togethers, fishing, golf, and ND football.  He also enjoyed reading WWII history and biography books.  Shortly after retirement, Jeanne and Bill were fortunate to travel extensively throughout Europe, India and China. Also, he was a proud member of the ND Class of ’45, the Elks Club, the University Club at ND, and the Assemblers Dance Club. 

Bill has donated his body to the IU School of Medicine Anatomy Education Program. Through these donations, young students are taught to become doctors.

A private family memorial Mass has been held and final burial will be at a later date at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Bill may be made to the St. Joseph County Library, c/o Collection Development, (for the purchase of large print books for Francis Branch), 304 S. Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601, or Center for Hospice Care, 501 Comfort Place, Mishawaka, IN 46545 or to the charity of the donor’s choice. 

The family would like to thank the entire staff at Wellbrooke for their attentive care of Bill and also the Palmer Funeral Home – Hickey Chapel, who has assisted with arrangements.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William "Bill" H. Klem, Jr., please visit our floral store.


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