Skip to main content

Roger Lee Klingman, 86

New Hampton Tribune and Nashua Reporter - Staff Photo - Create Article

Roger Lee Klingman, age 86 of Nashua, died Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Waverly Health Center in Waverly.

Friends may greet the family from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2022, at Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory/Olson Chapel in Nashua.

A Memorial Service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2022, at Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory/Olson Chapel in Nashua following the visitation.

Roger was born on Nov. 3, 1936, to Freddie and Ruby (Breitsprecher) Klingman on the family farm that was located in a rugged area of rural Clayton County called “Fritz Hollow” in rural Clayton County. He grew up on a farm a couple of miles north of Arlington, and he walked to and from school every day.

In high school, Roger was a standout three-sport athlete, playing on the line on both sides of the ball in football while also starring for the Indians in basketball and baseball before graduating with Arlington High School’s Class of 1955.

He then attended Wartburg College in Waverly, where he played both football and basketball for the Knights and majored in physical education, and minored in history education.

Roger was extremely bashful so it’s probably a good bet that Eileen Burrack introduced herself to him, and the two became high school sweethearts but also attended Wartburg together. The two married on June 9, 1957, at the St. John’s Lutheran Church, beginning a marriage filled with plenty of love and education. Roger and “Eenie” had three children — Kathy, Kerry, who died in infancy, and Barry — who had parents who were life-long learners who taught their children right from wrong.

After graduating from Wartburg, Roger took a teaching job in the small southwest Iowa town of Orient, where he also began what would be a long and fruitful coaching career. He also attended what was then known as Northeast Missouri State and received his master’s degree.

In 1963, he accepted a position with Nashua Community Schools, where he taught physical education and coached the Bulldogs — and for a few years at least — the Nashua-Plainfield Huskies. He coached a number of sports, but he is best known for his work on the football field and as the school’s athletic director. Roger’s team weren’t especially fancy on offense or defense, but his team’s lived by one of their coach’s favorite sayings — “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” They began virtually every game with a stretch sweep, and when his players asked why they didn’t mix it up, Roger told them he wanted their opponent to “know what they were going to deal with the rest of the game.”

As both a teacher and a coach, he was one of those guys who demanded respect yet also knew that it was just as important for him to respect his students and his athletes. The all-weather track at Nashua-Plainfield is named after him for the hundreds — if not thousands — of lives he touched during his long career in education.

Outside of school and sports, Roger was a family man, who loved to fish and spend time at “the river.” He and Eenie had their “Clayton Cottage” on the Mississippi and there was nothing better for them than spending a day on a boat.

Later in life, he shined as a grandfather. As one of his grandsons put it, Roger was “wise and dependable” and he rarely, if ever, missed their school programs and athletic events. Kory, Jordan, and Gavin have wonderful memories of going to the Klingman’s farm outside of Nashua and kicking around a soccer ball, shooting hoops, and just hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma.

Roger Klingman was one of a kind. He taught not only his children and grandchildren but also generations of students the importance of giving back to their schools and communities. One of his former students wrote that “Coach” always offered encouragement and guided me and many others as we matured into adults” and that “I thank the Lord for letting him be a part of my life!”

He will be missed, especially by his family members and his students, but they are comforted by the fact that he is reunited with his Eenie in a far better place.

Roger is survived by his son, Barry (Valerie Roach) Klingman of Nashua; three grandchildren, Kory Klingman of Minneapolis, Jordan (Jamie) Klingman of Cedar Falls, and Gavin Klingman of New Hampton; Valerie’s children, Dillon (Taylor) Roach, Noah Roach, Allison (Cole) Berger and their son Holden and Gunnar Roach; and numerous former students, Bulldogs, and Huskies.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Eileen in 2016; two daughters, Kerry in infancy and Kathy in 2003; one brother, Loy (Janice) Klingman; and one sister, Janice (Dick) Krall.

Thank you for reading!

To read the full version of all available articles, you must be a subscriber to the New Hampton Tribune's website. To become a subscriber, please click here to be taken to our subscription page. If you already are a subscriber, please click here to login to the site and continue reading. Thank you.