Charles ‘Charlie’ Kleba

Friday, July 30, 2021
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On July 20, 2021, the amazing spirit of Charles “Charlie” Kleba left the earth at the age of 95 to be reunited with the love of his life, Marge Kleba. 

Charlie enjoyed decades of good health in which he was able to do all the things he enjoyed: spending time with his family, golfing, reading, listening to music, driving his car, traveling, taking care of his yard, and socializing. 

Charlie was born on Nov. 27, 1925 in Pittsburgh, PA, the proud son of Eastern European immigrants, Michael and Anna Kleba. Charlie was the oldest son in his family consisting of two sisters, Mary and Helen, and a younger brother, Mike. The family settled in Ernest, a small coal mining town in western Pennsylvania, where life during the Depression was hard but their strong work ethic and family values kept the family going. Charlie helped his family by working jobs starting at an early age. 

At the age of 14, Charlie and a friend began a tradition during summer vacation of hitch hiking to Chautauqua, New York, to work as bell hops at the Athenaeum Hotel, sending the money they earned in tips home to help their families. After completing high school, Charlie enlisted in the Army Air Force during World War II where he served honorably as a Flight Engineer on a B-29 Bomber in the Pacific Theatre of War from 1943 until 1945.

Charlie had his eye on Marge from an early age as they grew up near each other; Charlie was a friend of Marge’s brother. When Charlie enlisted in the Air Force, Marge moved to Detroit where she served her country as a riveter in an airplane factory. After the war, they reconnected in Pennsylvania, fell in love, and married on Nov. 15, 1947. The couple settled in Ernest, PA, where Charlie worked as an electrician for the R & P Coal Mining Company. 

The first five years of their marriage blessed them with three children and a career move to Indiana, PA, where Charlie took on a new challenge as a sales representative with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. They raised their family in Indiana for nine years when Charlie accepted a position with FMC Corporation as a sales engineer based in the Philadelphia area. Charlie’s career with FMC spanned over 25 years and eventually landed him and Marge in Chicago, Cleveland, and finally to Reading, PA, where they bought their dream home on a golf course. Charlie loved every new challenge and the upward mobility connected with his job, and Marge was always a great support in uprooting every nine years to move to a new location to further Charlie’s career. At Charlie’s retirement, he had earned the distinction of being only one of three Regional Directors for FMC Corporation.

Charlie and Marge enjoyed golfing, playing bridge, and traveling together until 1991 when Marge was taken from him way too soon. As Charlie faced every challenge in his life with grit, grace, and determination he faced losing the love of his life the same way. He sold his home in Reading and began a new life in Montana, where he built a home on the ranch of Franklin and his daughter Susan Rigler near Gardiner. Charlie continued to golf and travel after Marge passed on and enjoyed visits from his kids and grandkids, many friends, and family during the 29 years he lived in Montana. Charlie loved golfing with the friends he made in Montana. An outgoing, social man, he savored his daily “coffee club” in Gardiner, discussing politics and current events. Self-educated and well-read, Charlie had strong opinions on most things and didn’t hesitate to become involved in discussions where he shared those opinions.

During the last two years of Charlie’s life, he experienced health challenges that he faced with courage and dignity. His wish was to pass on while living in his home and, on July 20, he fulfilled that wish. After sharing his love with his kids and his grandkids he decided to let go of life and let his spirit soar into the next adventure. He left the earth knowing he was so loved, respected, and admired by his family, passing peacefully to join his beloved Marge. Charlie was one of a kind and he is irreplaceable to his family. He will always be “the boss.”

Charlie was preceded in passing by his beloved wife of 43 years, Marge, his parents, and his sisters, Mary and Helen. He is survived by his brother Mike, along with Charlie and Marge’s children John Kleba, Susan Rigler, and Judy Herman and his sons-in-law Franklin Rigler and Les Herman. His legacy includes his grandchildren Paul, Michael, Kate and Sarah Kleba; Tara, Ryan and Chuck Rigler; and Olivia, Mark and David Herman; and his great-grandchildren: Celia, Porter, Jill and John Rigler; Charlie and Ali Kleba-Bahkle, and the twins, Violet and Nikolai Herman.

Charlie was a member of St. William’s Church in Gardiner, MT. Charlie will be interred beside his wife Marge at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Livingston, MT, in a private family service officiated by Father Garrett Nelson of St. Mary’s Parish, Livingston, MT. Charlie will be recognized for his military service with Military Honors at the graveside.

The family extends a heartfelt thank you to Livingston Health Care and especially to Dr. Henry Pinango, his nurse, Heather, and Hospice nurse, Brittany, as well as Hospice social worker T., for their loving care of our dad.

Donations in memory of Charlie may be made to Gardiner Ambulance Service, Box 111, Gardiner, MT 59030 or Livingston HealthCare Hospice, 320 Alpenglow, Livingston, MT 59047.

Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements. To view obituaries or leave condolences, visit www.franzen-davis.com.

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