Michael Steve Klimko, lifetime resident of Medina, lifetime member of St. Francis Xavier Church, charter member of the Medina Veterans of Foreign Wars 5137, enjoyed serving Medina County for 10 years as county roads superintendent, especially being able to work with state trooper and Harding Street neighbor Curt Bell.
Mr. Klimko passed away Monday, August 25, 2014 in Medina.
The most prominent adventure and tragedy in Mr. Klimko’s life was fighting the Japanese in the Second World War. Driven by the war fever on everyone’s mind, Mr. Klimko forged his age to enlist in the U.S. Navy, just 15. He shocked elder brother, John by turning up at the recruiting station in Illinois. Mr. Klimko believed he would spend the war playing baseball for an admiral’s team, until a friend of his placed the ballplayer’s name at the top of a blackboard. He was “volunteered” for combat. He then joined the USS Young.
USS Young, a 2050-ton Fletcher class destroyer, was built in Texas and commissioned July 1943. Early service was spent in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The ship joined the trans-Atlantic voyage in November as an escort to the USS Iowa, a battleship transporting Franklin D. Roosevelt to the secret Teheran Conference to meet with Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek. Sailing into Alaskan waters and then the Philippines, the USS Young encountered Japanese suicide plane attacks which hit several ships in her group. Mr. Klimko recalls seeing US sailors adrift in the ocean to be picked up, alive and dead, “Shattering.”
An avid athlete, Mr. Klimko played baseball professionally for minor league affiliates of the Washington Senators, now known as the Minnesota Twins. Senators president Clark Griffith saw him as a pitcher. The prospect rewarded Griffith with a few strikeouts of Stan Musial. He excelled at baseball, bowling and golf. He joined other hot shot bowlers such as Buck Horton, Tom Haight, Gert Morris, Jim Yetteimer on ABC tournaments in Chicago with Akron Bowling Hall of Fame kegler Boyd Davenport.
Mr. Klimko followed in his father’s footsteps as employee in Medina of the Henry Furnace Company. As a union steward, he visited the White House. Told that he was from Medina, John Kennedy turned to Mr. Klimko and said, “Oh, the Bee Capitol of the World!” After more than 20 years, Luxaire Inc. named Mr. Klimko manager and personnel director of the Henry Furnace division. Due to his continuing education courses and employment administration, Luxaire directors saw him as ideally suited for the post.
In addition, Mr. Klimko was charged with working with and improving overall employee relations and with building civic and business relationships in the community and vicinity of Medina. To that end, he won the esteem of civic leaders such as Mayor Fred M. Greenwood.
“I have your letter indicating your intent to resign as a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee,” the mayor wrote in June 1968. “I really hate to see you resign from this committee as I feel you have been a great asset to the group. I have worked with you on several projects in the past several years and have enjoyed our association very much.
“It is with reluctance that I accept your resignation, but you may rest assured that I will probably call on you from time to time for other committees that will come up. Mike, I appreciate all that you have done and want to thank you very much.”
Mike is survived by his sweetie little darlin’ of the world, Joni Bitting; loving children, Michael (fiancee Kathy Swigart) Klimko, Jr. of Joliet, Illinois, Mark Klimko of Minooka, Illinois, Teresa “Terri” (Steven) Cowan of Shorewood, Illinois and Kris Alstott of Shorewood, Illinois; dear grandchildren, Michael Paul Klimko, Cole and Cate Alstott, Emma and Jackson Cowan.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Mary (Takacs) Klimko; and brothers, John and Andrew.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, August 29, 2014 at 11 A.M, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 606 E. Washington St., Medina. Father Christopher Cox will officiate. Burial with Military Honors will follow at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman. Family will receive friends Thursday, August 28, 2014 from 4 to 8 P.M. at the Waite & Son Funeral Home, 765 N. Court St., Medina.
Contributions may be made to Hospice of Medina County, 5075 Windfall Road, Medina, OH 44256.
Online condolences may be left at www.waitefuneralhome.com