John Klecka of East Chicago died on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at home. He was 96 years old.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois to Joseph and Frances Klecka in 1922. Ten years later his family moved to East Chicago, Indiana.
John’s first passion began in 1935, when he joined the Boy Scouts, the Sea Scouts as a teenager in 1938, and eventually became an adult leader of Troop 22 and Sea Scout Ship 2 in East Chicago. He remained active in Scouting for over 50 years, receiving the highest adult leader honor, the Silver Beaver award. His wife was both a Cub Scout leader and Girl Scout leader, earning the Silver Fawn award, and all six of their children participated in Scouting as well.
He served in the Navy Seabees in WWII in the Pacific theatre. After the war, he went to work at Youngstown Steel Company, where he met Helen Stokes. They were married in 1947 and had six children. He worked in the shipping department at Champion Rivet until his retirement, and was the local representative for the steelworkers’ union. He was given the George Meany Award, which is given by the AFL-CIO to union members who have made a significant contribution to the youth of their community through Scouting.
He assembled many scrapbooks and photo albums of his family and Scouting, his first two loves. John’s other passions were folk and ragtime music, and his church, the First Unitarian Church of Hobart, which he started attending in 1955, serving as usher and on several committees over the years, and even giving several lay-led services at the Sauk Trail Unitarian-Universalist Fellowhip in Crown Point. He also received the Boy Scouts’ Religion in Life award from the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Survivors include his daughter Rachel Kaye, who cared for him in East Chicago; daughter Ruth (Ken) Gibney, Land O’ Lakes, Florida; son Tom (Sandra), Old Town, Florida; daughter Florence (David Mayfield), South Bend, Indiana; grandsons Christopher Gibney, Bill (Julie) Klecka, James (Charlene) Klecka, Timothy Gibney, and Stuart Mayfield; great-grandson Bill Klecka; and great-granddaughter, Kyla Gibney.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, his sister, Mildred, and his children, Margaret and Robert.
Visitation will be at Ridgelawn Funeral Home (www.RidgelawnFuneralHome.com), 4201 W. Ridge Road, Gary, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 10-11 a.m. Funeral is at 11 a.m., with burial to follow at Ridgelawn Cemetery.