Jerome Joseph Klingele was reunited with the love of his life in heaven on July 10th, 2023. He was born on October 13th 1928 in Quincy Illinois to Hubert and Genevieve (Schmitt) Klingele. He received his degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois, after which he joined the Army to serve in the Korean War.
You may have noticed that we couldn’t go one sentence without mentioning Jerome’s wife of sixty-three years, and that’s because Jerome was a man devoted to the people around him. Jerome married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Klingele, on March 31st, 1952, and they began their lives together in Portage Michigan, living in the same home they built on West Lake for the entirety of their blessed time together. As an architect, building houses was a career to Jerome. As a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, creating homes for the ones he loved was his specialty.
To his seven children he was Papa (with a brief interlude during teenage-hood where he went by Joe Cool—creating the kind of home that welcomed friends and family alike). And over the years Papa’s quiet humor, thoughtful questions, and various passions welcomed everyone to his hearth. He was always a Papa to his family, but over time he became a Papa to so many more.
He began his career at Kingscott and Associates where he worked until 1971 before embarking on his own as Jerome J. Klingele, AIA, PC. He served for several years as secretary of the American Institute of Architects. Family traditions were Jerome’s foundation, and as the secretary of the American Institute of Architects, Jerome helped plan the annual AIA convention on Mackinac Island, hosting his grandchildren one-by-one at the Grand Hotel and creating a beloved family tradition. In 2015 he fulfilled a longtime wish to have the grandest of family reunions, bringing forty-one family members to the Grand Hotel.
Faith and service were integral to Jerome. A cherished community advocate, Jerome was an officer for the Lions Club of Kalamazoo for many years and was a member of St. Monica’s Parish where he sang in the choir. Jerome and his family soon became charter members of the newly formed St. Catherine’s Parish, where he was a long-standing usher and member of several golf leagues.
But outside of his commitment to the community around him, Jerome was a man with an insatiable curiosity for life and a list of interests and passions that were as varied as they were fundamental to who he was. He loved his vegetable garden, coaxing various plants along on his windowsill, sharing their sprouts with anyone who asked. He was a coin collector, sifting for hours for the perfect “shiny coin” to tape inside his children’s birthday presents or grandchildren’s report cards. He was a traveler, taking in the sights of Yellowstone, the Smokies, Ireland, Germany, and a family favorite, the lakeshores of Michigan. He was a musician, playing the trombone in the University of Illinois marching band who went on to attend countless middle school, high school, and WMU band concerts, tapping his feet along to the music around him. He was an artist who displayed a painting from each grandchild alongside his own work as an art student at IU and beyond. If you entered the Klingele home or met a Klingele descendant, you felt Jerome’s presence, because his talents have been planted like seeds in his garden, blossoming around him tenfold.
And the family kept Jerome and Dorothy busy as they grew. From his seven children to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he attended more baseball games, dive meets, track events, wrestling tournaments, soccer games, and more than can be counted. Always an avid participant, Jerome could be found keeping stats for his children before taking his seat besides his favorite cheerleader, Dorothy.
But what his family remembers most is his solid, consistent presence and the special way he looked at the world that somehow made it feel bigger. They remember that finger that could point at the globe and tell them something incredible about history, that storyteller that could recall a place he went long ago. They remember that pair of shoulders in the Illini sweatshirt, that sharp mind asking questions about their latest high school report, that excited “oh!” at the dinner table when it was finally time for dessert. Jerome was a man of family, and of faith, and of passion, and of the most simple, enduring love.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Ann Shanahan, and his brothers Kenneth, Roger, George. He is survived by his brother Maurice (Carol) Klingele and seven children; Kathy (Mark) Keller, Tom, Jane (Randy) Ely, Molly (Dominic) Iammarino, Steven, Barbara (Greg) Johnston, and Joe; his fifteen grandchildren; Erin (Aaron), Andy (Meredith), Chris (Valerie), Anne Marie (Scott), Laura (Rob), Mary (Drew), Lindsay (Phil), Kate (Nick), Allison (Tim), Sara (Sam), Megan, Margaret, Hailey, Matthew, and Ella, and twenty-one great-grandchildren.
Friends may meet the family from 6:00-8:00pm Thursday, July 13 at the Langeland Family Funeral Homes, 411 E. Centre, Portage, MI 49002 where the Rosary will be recited at 7:30pm. Friends may also visit with the family from 10:00-11:00am at St. Catherine Catholic Church, 1150 W. Centre, Portage, MI 49024 on Friday, July 14 where Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00am. A light luncheon will follow the service and interment will be in Portage Central Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to the Knights of Columbus or the Lions Club. To view Jerome’s personalized guestbook please visit https://www.langelands.com