LA CRESCENT, Minn. — Richard “Dick” Allan Kleppe, 76, of La Crescent passed away Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by loving family.
Dick was born March 31, 1941, in Decorah, Iowa, to Alfred and Hedvig Kleppe. Dick was fond of telling the story (according to family lore), of being eight months old, hearing the radio news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and countering by spitting up his peas all over his mother.
Dick graduated from Decorah High School, class of 1959. He went on to get his bachelor of arts degree from Luther College, Decorah, in political science and economics. He later received a masters degree in guidance counseling from Winona State University in Winona.
On June 21, 1964, Dick married Solveig (Engebretson) Kleppe of Black River Falls, Wis., in her home town. From early on in their lives together, Dick and Solveig took many courageous camping trips throughout the U.S., Mexico, and arguably their favorite, Alaska. Then made exclusively of gravel, the infamous 1,390 mile “Alaska Highway,” may have flattened many of Dick and Solveig’s car tires, but it did not flatten their marriage—nor their sense of adventure.
Known by many of his students for his long stories, Dick served as a history teacher, a social studies teacher, and also as a guidance counselor at various points during his 39 years of service in public education. He began his career in Houston, Minn., before teaching in Beaver Dam, Wis., Juneau, Alaska; and ultimately in La Crescent, where he spent most of his years.
Dick was an avid Ham radio operator, originally working under the call sign K0KTP and later K0MN. He spoke with radio enthusiasts in every country in the world several times over and was awarded “Top of the Honor Roll,” by the American Radio Relay League. To visit Dick in the family home, you were most likely to find him in the “Ham Shack,” that mysterious, closet-like “man cave” in the basement, with tables of radios, computers, terminals, and wires—clearly off limits to all, unless invited to enter, which he frequently (and kindly) did.
Dick was a proud NRA member, avid hunter, and “chief” of infamous “Squaw Camp,” (cabin and hunting grounds), in Black River Falls, Wis., where he met at least annually with buddies Al, Ken, Bruce, and Ernie.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Solveig (Engebretson) Kleppe; and his three children, Kimberly (Jason) Maret of Decorah, Kari Sanding of De Soto, Wis., and Eric Kleppe of Phoenix. He is also survived by his three grandsons, Trevor Sanding, Matthew Sanding, and Jakob Maret; and his brother, Lowell (Barbara) Kleppe of Plymouth, Minn.
A private graveside service is planned. Memorials can be directed to Little Norway Church in Black River Falls.