Richard F. Klawunn, 92, loving husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather died on April 11, 2020. We are comforted by the thought that he has joined his devoted wife of 62 years, Helen Lancton Klawunn, who passed away in 2018. For those who knew Helen and Dick, it is very clear that they had a strong and loving bond that was the foundation for their family.
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Dick was born on September 7, 1927 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Lillian and Frederick A. Klawunn, and has a younger sister, Ruth Randa. From a young age, Dick worked with his father at the family’s contracting business and began to learn his life-long skills in woodworking, metal working, and automotive repair. Dick served in the Navy at Lakehurst Naval Base at the end of World War II and during the Korean War. He was proud of his service and had great stories about landing blimps at Lakehurst. Dick was able to attend Trenton State Teacher’s College on the G.I. Bill and later received a Master’s Degree from Montclair State Teacher’s College. Dick taught wood shop, metal shop, and automotive repair at Highland Park High School for 35 years where he also served as Department Chair for industrial arts, fine arts, and home economics. At the end of his career, Dick was proud of teaching himself computers and developed some of the high school’s first courses in Computer-Aided Design. He was a committed and creative teacher who was loved by his students and over many years, students would tell him how much he helped them to develop the skills and job interests that they pursued.
Dick was extremely skilled as a woodworker and could fix just about anything. Some of his larger projects including adding a room onto the Amboy Avenue house and making all of the kitchen cabinets, but almost every day he was making or fixing something. He had a large wood shop in the basement and later in the garage that included a wide range of tools. He was a willing consultant to friends who needed assistance with any fix-it project and made many items for his children. He taught himself a lot of skills including caning Windsor chairs and upholstery. At one point, he took up baking cakes until he says that Helen told him, “I stay out of your wood shop, so you can stay out of my kitchen.” He loved repeating this story.
Dick had strong and enduring friendships including his Phi Alpha Delta fraternity brothers from Trenton State Teacher’s College. In Metuchen NJ, where Helen and Dick raised their children, they enjoyed many years of friendship with the neighbors on Simpson Place and Bounty Street. Dick served as a member of the Vestry for Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Metuchen and was proud of the work he did to restore the steeple of the Church. Neighbors in Metuchen fondly remember seeing Dick on his daily walk with his beloved dog, Penny.
Dick is survived by his three children, Margaret and husband Rick, Fred and wife Theresa, and Carol and husband Joe. Dick was a very devoted father who always had time for his children and grandchildren and loved taking them skiing and sailing, two of the outdoor activities he loved and passed on to the family. Some of Dick and Helen’s happiest days included their 10 grandchildren - Forrest, Nick, Cory, Gil, Luke, Rich, Sarah, Courtney, Travis, and Kevin. Dick and Helen developed many important family traditions which are annual gatherings that the family will continue to carry on in their spirit.
For those who would like to honor Dick, donations can be made in the name of Richard F. Klawunn to Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. A memorial service will be held there when it is safe for us to gather.