Donald Theodore Klodt, devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away Nov. 3, at the age of 89. His absence is present everywhere. This past year he had valiantly struggled through many serious health challenges, and with incredible grace endured glaucoma, which was steadily robbing him of the precious gift of eyesight.
Don had a quiet but profound impact on family, friends, colleagues, and on the Grace United Methodist Church community, so he leaves a void in many people’s lives. He was a man of integrity, and among his many outstanding qualities, he will be remembered especially for his generosity, kindness and wry sense of humor.
He was born in 1930 on George Washington’s birthday—February 22, so cherries were among his favorite fruits. His wife, Anne, would bake him a cherry pie (with a lattice-top crust) for his birthdays. And cherry chocolates—for his birthday or at Christmas—were a can’t-miss gift.
Don’s parents were Herbert and Ermine, and his older brother was Bernhardt (Ben). He was a Denver native—a rarity these days. He grew up in Valverde, several blocks west of the South Platte River. He attended Byers Junior High, South High School, and the Colorado School of Mines, receiving a bachelor’s degree studying metallurgy, which became his profession. His interest in metals, their indispensable value to everyday life; how they could be combined to make valuable alloys, and how corrosion could affect them, perhaps was forged when he worked in a foundry as a summer job.
Days before his graduation from Mines, Don married his sweetheart, Anne Fuller, who lived one house away from his childhood home. Immediately after receiving his degree, he and Anne took the train to Clinton, Ind., where he had accepted a job with DuPont, working at a heavy-water production plant for the hydrogen bomb. It was in Indiana that their first son, Steve, was born.
Don and Anne decided to return to Denver. Two more children were born: Laura and Eric.
He joined the Denver Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Denver, conducting research, teaching classes in metallurgy, and earning a master’s degree in mathematics. After receiving a fellowship from the National Science Foundation, Don studied for and received a Ph.D.
In 1968, he accepted a position as research coordinator and associate professor of metallurgical engineering at the Colo. School of Mines. After several years there, he decided to leave the school and become a consulting metallurgist, providing corrosion and metallurgic expertise for numerous clients, such as CF&I, Coors, Denver Water, Public Service, Stearns-Roger, Sunstrand, and the Denver Research Institute. Working with former DRI colleagues, Don participated in a technology information aid program in Brazil, surveying the country’s weathering steels infrastructure and providing recommendations.
The Bureau of Reclamation hired Don to travel to Hoover Dam and inspect its turbine runners for any signs of metal failure so the production of electricity would not be interrupted. This was something he did at midnight, under Lake Mead.
Another job was to fly to Thompson, Manitoba, to inspect hoisting equipment at the INCO mine. Locally, he examined a 9-foot-diameter pipeline that was to transport treated water to Denver (had not been used yet) to find out why the pipe, built by joining sections of steel, had torn apart at a seam. These were just some of his career highlights.
When the Colorado economy downturned in 1985, he finished his career at Johns Manville.
Don wrote journal articles, conducted symposia, and taught courses (including many foreign students) during his career. Outside of the United States, he led workshops in Columbia—at Barrancabermeja, Bogota, and Medellin. He was a member of Toastmasters and gave a popular talk on pollution (“Rattletrapus Engulphus”) to service organizations and on radio. He also belonged to the National Association of Corrosion Engineers and American Society for Metals, and spoke at many of their conferences. For several years, Don served on the Holly Hills Water and Sanitation District board.
Don was a long-time, committed member of Grace United Methodist Church. He was well known as an usher and committee member, always contributing his time and support to the church community.
He was interested in many engineering disciplines, and he enjoyed astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, and other areas of science. Scientific American was a mainstay publication at the Klodt household. But his interests also included photography, carpentry, genealogy, camping, and traveling.
As he grew older, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were his greatest joy, and he and Anne were very involved in their lives and relished their company.
Don is survived by his son Steve (Mary), daughter Laura Bauer, and son Eric, plus three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made in Don’s name to Grace United Methodist Church, 4905 E. Yale Ave., Denver, CO 80222.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, Nov. 15, at 10:30 a.m., at Grace United Methodist Church, 4905 E. Yale Ave.