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Harold P. Klingler, Sr.

January 2, 1928 – December 31, 2020

He was born to Helen B. (Richter) and Francis T. Klingler at their residence on Chester Ave in Riverside, NJ. He lived his life in the Riverside Park section of Delran, NJ.  His younger years were filled with a bit of mischief and a whole lot of learning. His father continuously educated him.  Whether it be at the kitchen table after dinner or alongside him building the family homes on Alden Ave.  As he finished 8th grade, he chose to learn a trade in his Uncle Paul’s machine shop on Stewart Ave.  His father had already schooled him with mechanical drawings.  It was there where he learned the skills of tool and dye maker and machinist which would suit him quite well in life.

A few years later Uncle Sam would call for him to serve his country.  The family machine shop held government contracts during this time and he could have requested deferment.  Instead, he chose to serve his country and join the Army. He would travel to Ft. Knox, Kentucky and later Ft. Lewis, Washington where he would also experience California as a machinist with the Army Corp of Engineers.  He was amazed at the beauty of his country. 

Headed home in Dec. 1946 for an unexpected Christmas leave, he survived a horrific head on train crash with a freight train traveling on the wrong track in South Dakota.  Even though WWII was winding down, his group was given orders to head to Korea.  As he stood on the dock waiting to board the ship, these orders were cancelled. He often spoke of his fortune in staying stateside.

His work life would continue at Keystone Watchcase (Riverside, NJ), NY Shipyard (Camden, NJ) and Campbell’s Soup (Camden, NJ) for 30 years until he retired in 1994. 

He would meet the love of his life and forever wife, Elaine Phyllis (Headman) and they would marry in 1961.  A few years later they would purchase their forever home in Riverside Park, just across from the family machine shop on Stewart Ave.  They would raise their three children in the same neighborhood where he grew up.  Coming from a musical family himself, there was always music being played in the house. His family cherished his playing of the piano whenever they were together.  He would always play while waiting for others to be ready to go out the door.  In more recent years you could find him at the piano with his great-grandchildren, Ava and Carter, by his side.  Those smiles were a special kind of bright.  The silence of his piano is now deafening.  He worked hard and always provided for his family.  A repairman was never seen, as he could build or repair almost everything in the house.  As years went along the family would vacation in LBI, Lancaster County (PA) and visit family in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

During his lifetime he was a longtime member of Riverside Turner’s where he would tirelessly referee boxing and wrestling matches for charity and dance with Elaine on Saturday nights. He began his education with the Masonic Lodge in Riverside and became a Master Mason in March of 1964.  He was a Mason to the end.

Music was a constant in the Klingler family and he could play just about any instrument. Harold, along with his brothers, would join the Riverside String Band at a young age.  He served as music director several times and was a member for many decades.  He was a Ham Radio operator and his calling was WA2DAF and was also a member of the American Legion in Riverside.

Harold’s retirement years were full of enjoyment.  He would spend time with Elaine at their trailer in Lancaster County where they met lifelong friends.  It was the perfect place to get away.  However, he never stopped working or exercising his mind.  In his basement workshop he would continue the work he enjoyed so much.  His first project, an automated pickle jarring machine was a success.  But, a businessman he was not.

Always reading books about history, his next project would take him on a ride through his lifetime.  He researched his hometown, interviewed many former residents and collected photos and information.  His dream of writing his own book, “A Walk in the Park” came to fruition.  It’s a combination of his memories of growing up in Riverside Park (Delran, NJ) and historical facts.  It was a very proud moment for him and for his family.

Of course during the time of writing his book he continued with another workshop project.  His family dubbed it “his machine!”  He was experimenting with perpetual motion.  He worked on it tirelessly.  Assembling, testing, refiguring and disassembling hundreds if not thousands of parts and pieces for over 10 years until he became ill in December.

Finally, quitting time for him was always 4pm.  Ironically, he went home to be with his Lord on New Year’s Eve at 3:53pm due to complications of Covid.  We choose to imagine he’s raising hell in heaven with his brother-in-law Ed “Eggie” Horton and couldn’t miss another NYE Party without him. 

He was predeceased by his son, Kenneth M. and sisters, Eleanor Horton and Shirley Steedle and survived by his 2 brothers Francis and Wayne (Barbara).  He is greatly missed by his loving wife Elaine (Headman), sons Harold P. Jr. and William H. (Sherie), and daughter Cynthia J. (Richard) Wasco.  He was quite proud to see his 8 grandchildren–James (Ellen), Jaqueline (Balliet), Eric, Timothy (Allie) Wasco, Michael (Crystal) Wasco, Stephanie, Logan and Juli–experience college,weddings and have children of their own.  He is also survived by great-grandchildren Jane, Margaret, McKayla, Natalie, Alexander, Ava and Carter.

A celebration of life will be in the spring at the family’s discretion. 

  To record a brief video tribute, condolence or cherished memory to be shared privately with the family, please click this link:  Send Hugs for Harold P. Klingler, Sr                                               

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