James Edward Klansnic, Sr.|
February 23, 1920 ~ July 25, 2014
Raise a martini- one olive, on the rocks - to the life of James "Jim" Edward Klansnic, Sr. As a devoted Catholic, he found great solace in his faith. As an Army Air Corp pilot, he proudly served his country as a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII. As a child near Enumclaw, he really did the task of milking the cows on the family farm before walking to school. As an adult, he worked 37 years as a hydraulics/pneumatics engineer and manager at the Boeing Co. And as a family man, he was a devoted husband of one, father of six, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of three. He was also a loyal friend to many in Enumclaw, Bellevue and beyond.
Jim shared 50-plus years of marriage with his wife, Tillie Bernice (d. 1995), a nationally ranked tennis player who squinted so hard when she laughed tears streamed down her face. Both were beloved fixtures at Sacred Heart Church in Clyde Hill, and together they polka and square danced, skied (they were original investors in Crystal Mountain resort, where Jim skied up until two years ago), hiked, worked out at Bellevue Club (also charter members), played bridge, read books, attended UW and Seahawk football games, traveled, relaxed at their Whidbey Island beach cabin, laughed, cried and presided over a large, close-knit family.
While in service to our country as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in April 1944, the B-17 bomber he piloted was shot down over Steyr, Austria. All his men survived and sought shelter in an abandoned cabin. German soldiers arrived outside the cabin and shouted, "AUSSTEIGEN!" Jim knew exactly what this meant: "GET OUT!" His mother spoke some German and frequently yelled this word to the farm cats. (Though once the war started, she forbade anyone to speak German around the house.) He spent 13 months in an Austrian POW camp called Stalag Luft 1 and was liberated in May 1945.
He was also widely known for his devotion to the service of his community. A founding and charter member of the Knights of Columbus of the Bellevue chapter - he served as Warden and as Grand Knight (1984-1985). He often put his carpentry and electrical skills to work making improvements to Camp Brotherhood in Mount Vernon, Wash., where the mission is to forge an interfaith dialog between all the world's religions. And when a severe flood devastated Honduras, he and his longtime friend, the very funny and gregarious John Shorkey, quickly flew down to help rebuild the houses of strangers in need. Jim also did a weekly "bread run" for many years taking donated bakery goods to St. Francis House and several other missions in downtown Seattle.
Jim was predeceased by his sister, Sally, and is survived by his sister, Lorie, brother, Dick, and his children: Marilyn (Bruce), Jimmy Jet (Elaine), John (Diane), Paul (Heidi), Mike (Karla), and Barb (Kevin). The grandchildren he could not get enough of: Milena (Franky), Phoebe (Chris), Celena (Logan), Tyler (Kristin), Kasey, Chad, Cody and Zach. And his great grandchildren, Hazel, Olive and dancing fool (following in his footsteps and his middle namesake) Atticus James.
Jim passed away peacefully, holding the hand of his son, Paul. Now he's at rest next to Tillie.
For those who wish to honor Jim's passing, we suggest a donation to Camp Brotherhood (http://www.treacylevine.org/), a place and group of people that meant so much to him and who were grateful, in turn, for his dedication, elbow grease and good humor.
Published in The Seattle Times from July 30 to July 31, 2014