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Kluckhohn, Harvey N. 1898-1981


Posted By: Linda Ziemann, Volunteer (email)
Date: 7/28/2010 at 17:51:36

LeMars Daily Sentinel
Monday, February 2, 1981


Dr. Harvey N. Kluckhohn, 82, who served 30 years as LeMars public and community school superintendent, died Saturday evening (Jan. 31, 1981) at a Storm Lake hospital.

He had been hospitalized two weeks following gallbladder surgery. Dr. Kluckhohn had been ill for a month suffering from the gallbladder and heart conditions. He had suffered a heart attack before Christmas.

He had made his home at Methodist Manor in Storm Lake the last 10 months after making his home in LeMars for 52 years.

Friends may meet with the family from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Mauer Funeral Home in LeMars.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the First United Methodist church in LeMars. Rev. Leonard Root will officiate.

Burial will be in Oakdale cemetery at his native Adel, Iowa.

Survivors are two daughters, Mrs. Robert L. (Ruth) Eckles, Des Moines, and Mrs. Richard (Shirley) Stover, Riverside, Calif.; four grandchildren, Randal Perry in Florida, Richard Perry of Iowa City, Brian and Jeffrey Stover of Riverside, Calif., and a sister, Mrs. J. R. Anthony, Columbia, Mo.

Harvey Nelson Kluckhohn was born July 30, 1898, on a farm near Garner in Hancock County, Iowa, the oldest of four children of Arthur and Emma (Schuldt) Kluckhohn.

He grew up on the family farm, participating as a youth in its activities. But his tastes turned early toward scholastic pursuits, and by the time he had completed the eighth grade of the Garner public school at the age of 13 he had already committed himself to teaching as his life’s vocation.

In the fall of 1916 at age 18, after his graduation from the normal training course at the Garner high school, he began a career in education which was destined to extend through more than a half-century, as teacher in a one-room country school four miles from the farm home—traversing the 8 miles daily (except in unusually cold winter weather when he “boarded” in the district) on foot or by bicycle or horse and buggy.

He returned to the school for a second year in 1917-18, after a summer at Upper Iowa University (now Upper Iowa College) in Fayette. In the later years as a young superintendent he was to find the rural teaching experience, with its firsthand contacts with all eight elementary grades extremely valuable.

In the summer of 1918 he enrolled at Des Moines college (later known as Des Moines university), which was to become his undergraduate alma mater—a second step in the pattern of obtaining much of his undergraduate training and all of his graduate work through summer school attendance, with an eventual total of nine periods of summer vacation study.

Interspersed along the way toward an undergraduate degree were a brief stint of World War I Army service in Des Moines in the fall of 1918 and a years as high school teacher, superintendent and basketball coach in the small 5-teacher public school in the northeast Iowa town of Waucoma in Fayette County.

While in Waucoma, in October 1919, he became a charter member of the newly formed American Legion post, marking the beginning of a lifetime affiliation with the Legion.

Returning to Des Moines university in June 1920, he spent the next 18 months continuing his undergraduate studies while teaching classes in the academy and normal training departments.

In August 1921, he received his B.A. degree with a major in English, the field which would become his academic specialty in future college teaching. But before that time arrived on a fulltime basis nearly four decades of public school administration lay before him.

Beginning with a year at Mitchellville (1921-22), Mr. Kluckhohn’s career in administration, to which the year at Waucoma had been sort of a trial prelude, would extend through the next 37 years and would include superintendencies in two more Iowa towns—West Union, the county seat of Fayette county (1922-1928) and LeMars (1928-1958.)

Meanwhile, following closely upon his college graduation and preceding by only a few days the opening of school at Mitchellville, an event of primary importance to two people took place. It was the marriage of Harvey Kluckhohn and Lucille Whitcomb at her parent’s home in Adel, Iowa, on Sept. 1, 1921—the culmination of a romance which began at Des Moines college in the spring of 1919.

Harvey and Lucille were privileged to share almost 56 years of married life together. Her death from cancer occurred in June 1977. Two daughters were born to the Kluckhohns, Ruth at West Union and Shirley in LeMars.

The family came to LeMars in late August 1928, immediately following Harvey’s receiving his M.A. degree from the University of Iowa after four summers of graduate work in education and psychology.

Encompassed with Mr. Kluckhohn’s LeMars superintendency were two periods of major national crisis, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War of the 1940s. Although both made an impact upon the schools, the problems imposed by the war years was particularly acute.

During these years the local schools, along with others throughout the nation, experienced an unusually heavy turnover in teaching staff and a critical shortage in the supply of available instructors, especially men in the areas of mathematics, science and instrumental music.

But under the guidance of dedicated board members, administrators, and teachers, reinforced by the support of local citizens, they were able to withstand the strains of both crisis periods and moved forward with their programs intact into the expansionary decade of the 1950s.

These included a substantial increase in the high school enrollment through the drawing of tuition students in increasing numbers from the outlying rural and small-town districts (this was before the formation of a community school district in 1959); the expansion of the physical plant through the construction of two elementary schools (Clark and Franklin) in 1939, a vocational educational building to house the T & I and agriculture departments in 1951, a classroom addition to the Central building in 1952, and a new gymnasium in 1958; and a significant expansion in the schools curriculum, particularly in the offerings in vocational education.

Mr. Kluckhohn indicated on numerous occasions his feeling of gratification in the role he was privileged to play, supported by the school boards and people of the district, in the LeMars schools pioneering during the 1930s, 40s and 50s in the areas of trade and industrial education, both in the building and mechanical trades, and apprenticeship training and work experience programs.

During his tenure as LeMars school superintendent, Mr. Kluckhohn was an active participant in professional and community affairs, holding positions of responsibility in each area.

In the professional category he served in 1930-31 as president of the Northwest Iowa district teachers association, representing the group at the National Education Assn.’s 1931 summer convention in Los Angeles and presiding at the general sessions of the district convention in Sioux City the following fall. In the early 1940s he served a 3-year term as a member of the district association’s executive board.

In 1956-1958 he was a member of the executive committee of a group known as the City Superintendent’s club, serving first as secretary and then as vice-president and president of the group of school heads from Iowa cities of 5,000 population and over.

In the area of community life he was active in a wide range of church and civic affairs. As a member of the First Methodist church he served on the official board, and for a quarter of a century he taught an adult Bible class in the Sunday school. He also represented the church as its lay delegate at several of the denomination’s annual conference sessions.

Among the civic organizations in which he worked were the Rotary Club (president in 1934), the county infantile paralysis committee in the 1930s, and the local executive committee of the local chapter of the American Red Cross in the 1940s.

During the World War II period he served as publicity chairman for the war bond drives, as a worker in the rationing set up, as a civilian defense instructor, and as chairman of a county-wide war activities co-ordinating organization.

For 17 years in the 1940s and 1950s he was chairman of the LeMars community forum and a guiding spirit in its bringing to the LeMars community each season lecturers of note on national and world affairs.

Another of Mr. Kluckhohn’s extracurricular interests was Boy Scout work at the local, district and council levels. Starting as a troop committeeman in the early 1930s, he held various positions of responsibility in scouting, including district (county) general chairman, district and council leadership training chairman, and council vice-president. For 20 months around 1950 he served as president of the Prairie Gold Area council. In 1948 he received the Silver Beaver award and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow as an honorary member in 1951.

In June 1958 Mr. Kluckhohn retired from the LeMars superintendency, terminating 40 years of public school teaching and administration. But his service to education in LeMars was not ended.

The following fall, after a summer of “retooling” at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, he began a period of ten years of full-time work as associate professor of English at Westmar College.

He had previously taught classes in literature at the college for 12 summers—first in 1935 to 1944 and again in 1956 and 1957. At its 1954 commencement the college had conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of literature.

Besides his classroom teaching in composition and grammar, creative writing and grammar, creative writing and contemporary literature, he served for several years as a member of the arts and lectures committee and as faculty sponsor of the student writing anthology, “Westmar Writes.”

Professional activities included two years as president of the Westmar chapter of the American Assn of University Professors and two years as president of the Iowa Council of Teachers of English, made up of elementary, secondary, and college English teachers of the state.

In 1964 in cooperation with the college, Mr. Kluckhohn published a copyrighted book of poetry titled, “Soundings from a Schoolmaster,” containing 22 poems from his public school and Westmar years. In subsequent years he contributed several prose articles on English teaching to professional periodicals.

Following his retirement from Westmar in May 1968, Mr. Kluckhohn devoted a considerable portion of his time to writing, calling it his “third career.”

The writing activities of the late 1960s and early 1970s included contributing a weekly “column” to the Daily Sentinel under the title of “Museings,” dealing mainly with events and people of LeMars’ 100-year history, and the preparing of anniversary histories for the LeMars Rotary Club, Wasmer Post of the American Legion, First United Methodist church, and the Stanton Township Evangelical United Brethren (later United Methodist) church.

In the winter of 1970-71, Mr. Kluckhohn turned his attention to the writing of a series of personal and family memoirs. By 1974 he had produced six loose-leaf volumes of typewritten material chronically events from his farm boyhood years up to mid-1958.

Near the end of 1977, he completed work started some 18 months earlier on a 2-volume loose-leaf collection of narrative and pictorial material relating to the town of LeMars, the Kluckhohn family, and the LeMars public school system during the 20-year period from 1928 to 1948, titled, “Good Times, Bad Times.” The narrative portions consisted mainly of selected “Musings” articles and chapters from the memoirs volumes.

The set was presented to the LeMars public library to become a part of the section devoted to materials pertaining to LeMars and Plymouth County.

Other activities of the retirement years included completion in 1974 of eight years as secretary-treasurer of the Legion-affiliated war veterans group known as the LeMars Last Man’s Club and occasional talks, mainly on aspects of local history, to church and club groups.

A highlight of the period for Mr. Kluckhohn and his family was the dedication of LeMars’ new elementary school in the south part of town in his honor in March 1971.

His last civic act for LeMars was service as honorary chairman in 1979-80 of a fund drive to restore a carousel band stand in Foster Park.

The carousel has been completed with dedication planned some time this year. Mr. Kluckhohn urged the restoration as a memorial to LeMars school students and especially those who gave their lives in World War II.


Plymouth Obituaries maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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