Ronald Duane Klem
1955 - 2021
BORN
1955
DIED
2021

Ronald Duane Klem

Ronald Duane Klem was born on May 20, 1955 at Hanford Military base in Washington State where his late father, Ray, was stationed as a Military Police Sargent in the Army. This moved their family all over the world, but of all the places they went, Ron was always the most nostalgic about Germany. Especially German gummy bears.

Growing up he had two younger siblings. His brother Robert, born only 13 months later, could be (and has been) mistaken for his twin. His baby sister Rebecca arrived a few years later, completing their trio. As a kid, his mother remembers him as 'the boss.' He was always the leader, lots of times leading his siblings into timeout.

As a kid, it was obvious he was musically inclined. He was even in a band! His mother laughs at the memory because she went down to check on them practicing and saw their new band name painted on the drums: Satin's Revenge. His mother asked, 'Why are you called Satin's Revenge?' Young Ronny yelled back, 'It's supposed to be Satan's Revenge!' Sadly, the band broke up over artistic differences. But that never stopped Ron from learning and playing all sorts of instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, and his favorite: drums.

When he grew up, he followed in his father's military footsteps by joining the Navy. He proved himself impressive early on, being 1 of 120 chosen across the country for the Nuclear Submarine Program as a sophomore in college. He was incredibly smart and driven, later graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Science from MSUB-Bozeman and a Masters in Administration from Webster University.

Ron had his first son, Johnathan, in 1981. Six years later, he met the love of his life, Sharon. His sister talked him into going to western dance class, which is a tribute to Becky's negotiation skills as Ron loathed country music. But after that class, he saw Sharon across the room playing pool. He had never seen a woman playing pool before and he just could not help himself from walking over and talking to her. That one moment sparked the fire for the second half of his life with 33 years of marriage. He loved his wife and romancing her. Every Valentine's Day, the kitchen was FULL of stuffed animals, chocolates, roses, cards, and jewelry. Towards the end of his life, the only thing he said he wanted was for Sharon to be set. She is what mattered most.

After they were married, he and Sharon had three more children, Allyson, Elizabeth, and Stephen. Elizabeth, who had died at birth, will be reunited with her Dad when he is buried beside her. Ron's children loved him as much as a person can love a dad. They are proud of him and always aim to make him proud.

After retiring from the Navy as a Commander, he became a Structural Engineer for the B.I.A. while joining the Navel reserves for a few years. He then worked for The Public Health Services as part of the Core of Engineers. Also during this time, Ron had joined FEMA which required his help after 9/11. He went to New York for two weeks to help recover and establish a database for the victims.

After retiring from Public Health Services, Ron knew 50 was too young to stop working. He had too much energy, too much drive, too much more to give. He got his teaching certificate and went on to inspire students (and fellow teachers) at Skyview High School. He had a lot of reasons for wanting to teach, but all of us know the biggest reason was Golf Season, a.k.a. summer vacation. His youngest children, Allyson and Stephen, were blessed to have him as a teacher, albeit sometimes embarrassing. Ron was a character who used innovation and creativity to teach and motivate his students. He developed an interactive Jeopardy game and had Willy Wonka days…where he dressed in an all-purple velour suit. He did not have a set classroom, so he had a little cart with all the bells and whistles. Literally, there were bells. He also had a pickup decked out in support of his favorite team, the Vikings. But his students LOVED him. He made math fun!

After retiring from teaching, he devoted his time to his widowed mother Mildred Rom Klem, his golf set, and his grandchildren. Emerson (Stephen's son), Benjamin (John's son), and Adam and Charlotte (Allyson's children) sparked another fire in Ron. Watching him play with them, teaching them, spoiling them…the unconditional love was obvious, and they sure loved their Papa.

Ron, having left us all too soon, is survived by his mother, wife, younger brother and sister, children, and grandchildren. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family on Jan. 7, 2021. He will be forever missed, forever loved.


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Published by Billings Gazette on Jan. 12, 2021.
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I taught with Ron at Skyview. He always had a smile for everyone. I had Allyson in class, too. Love and prayers to you, Sharon, and your family.
Kari (Odermann) Field
January 13, 2021
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January 13, 2021