Wolfgang Paul Kloth, left this world on December 15th, 2022, at the age of 99. He lived a long and amazing life and will be forever missed.
Wolfgang was born on July 25th, 1923, to Wilhelm and Ilse (nee Hager) Kloth in the town of Plauen, Germany. Wolfgang volunteered into the German Army in 1941 and was soon called into service in Vienna, Austria. He was then moved to the Russian front in 1943. He fought in the battle of Kursk as a Panzer commander, the largest tank battle in history. He was wounded twice and survived typhus. In 1945 he was captured by Russian forces and became a prisoner of war. He spent almost 3 years in the Russian prison camp system. He was released and returned to Germany in 1947. He found his hometown destroyed and his family had lost everything. A family friend, Erika Baumann, helped nurse him back to health. She eventually had the opportunity to move to Monroe, Michigan and convinced him the United States had more to offer. In 1954, he arrived in New York, as so many immigrants before him, looking for a new start. He married Erika Baumann in June 1954, and they began their life in a 28-foot Roycraft trailer. They moved to Kalamazoo in 1959, because the landscape reminded him so much of their homeland. Wolfgang worked for the Brunswick Corporation for more than 15 years and later Durametallic (Flowserve) for 13 years. He and Erika lived in the same modest house for over 60 years where he loved puttering with household projects like over-engineered bird feeding systems and way too many houseplants. In the summers, he and Erika loved renting a small cottage on Glenn Lake in northern Michigan. They loved hiking through the dunes and woods of Sleeping Bear Dunes and knew all the hidden back roads to the quiet beaches. He was an avid swimmer and always felt better in the water. It was a sport he enjoyed into his late 90’s. He was also an active member of the Lions Club for many decades.
One day shortly before retirement, a friend invited him to a World War II reenactment. At the event, he found participants reenacting his actual tank battalion in the German Army. He was immediately embraced by this community and found new purpose in answering their questions and recounting his experiences at their events. He had an amazing memory for the details of the daily life of the German soldier and loved sharing his stories. He was often asked to present at local schools and universities. He was especially fond of the students in Mendon, Michigan who adopted him as a special friend.
Wolfgang is survived by two daughters, Susanne Kloth of Kalamazoo and Christina (Tina) (Kloth) Adams (husband, John Adams) of Kalamazoo and two grandchildren, Sam Adams and Emily Adams (fiancé, Clarke Gilroy); and great-granddaughter Kennedy Gilroy. He and Kennedy had an immediate connection, and she could always bring a smile to his face. Wolfgang was incredibly grateful that his family lived so close given he settled so far away from his homeland.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 7th at 11am, with a visitation one hour prior to the service and a luncheon to follow at Trinity Lutheran Church, 504 S. Westnedge Ave. Kalamazoo MI 49006. In lieu of sending flowers, donations can be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or the Kalamazoo Nature Center. The family would like to send a special thanks to the staff of Brookdale Portage and Centrica Care Navigators, your care and kindness are greatly appreciated. To view Wolfgang’s personalized webpage please visit https://www.langelands.com