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Bob Klopfenstein died Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at the age of 78, in Boston, Massachusetts, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and amyloidosis that resulted from chemical exposure during his service to his country in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Born July 2, 1940 in Cleveland, Ohio to the late Bob and Fritzi Klopfenstein, his parents moved to Silver Springs, Maryland during World War II. There, his father worked for the U.S. Army at the Pentagon and at the Advanced Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University, developing the VT proximity fuse, an important advancement in the war effort. It allowed bombs to explode only when they were close enough to the target to be effective.
After World War II, Bob and his family returned to Ohio for most of Bob’s upbringing, then to Weston, Connecticut in 1957. Bob obtained the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout in his youth. Throughout his life, Bob embodied the Eagle Scout virtues: he was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Bob attended Columbia University for one year. He later attended the University of Bridgeport, where he met his future wife, Moonyeen Klopfenstein (née Leonard; also known as “Moon” and later known as “Kloppy.”) In his senior year of college, he and Moon wrote down a list of the pros and cons of getting married. The results were overwhelmingly against marriage; nevertheless, one year later they married, and remained happily married for 52 years.
During his time in the Marine Corps, Bob served aboard a landing craft off the coast of Cuba, pending resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also during his service, Bob was stationed at Camp Lejeune and at Cherry Point, North Carolina, El Toro, California, Fort Bennet Field in Brooklyn, New York, and at Roosevelt Roads.
Bob and Moon welcomed David to the family in 1968, followed by Krista in 1971, and Dan in 1978. Consistent with his values of loyalty and helpfulness, Bob served as a Scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. When he discovered that daughter Krista had a special talent for softball, he not only coached her team but he founded the ASA Midway Girls Softball League. He also selflessly served twenty years as the president of the Tower Shores and Cedar Shores Civic Associations in the Bethany Beach area, where he and his family owned vacation homes. Bob retired from the Engineering Department of the DuPont Corporation after 38 years. Thereafter, he returned to DuPont as a consultant for another five years. During his career at DuPont he worked at the Experimental Station and other Wilmington locations, as well as at the Textile Fibers plant in Camden, South Carolina, and with the Employee Relations Department as a college recruiter visiting most major universities East of the Mississippi.
Bob and his family enjoyed 38 years of summer fun at their Bethany Beach oceanfront home, where he served as civic association president for 20 years. Bob derived enormous joy from the birth of grandchildren Carrie (daughter of David and Barbara), and Connor and Kyle (sons of Krista and Liz), and he loved his time with his extended family at his ocean-front home in Bethany Beach, Delaware, where far-flung family came each June for a huge family reunion organized by Bob and Moon.
With David and Dan, he travelled to Grand Teton, Yellowstone Park, Kenai Fjords and Denali National Parks. With David and Krista he travelled to Colorado to visit his brother, niece and grand-niece. He also enjoyed a family reunion with his wife, children and grandchildren in Lake Placid, New York. In culmination of a life-long dream, Bob travelled with Moon, Krista and Liz to Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Bob enjoyed the wonders of the United States having travelled to almost all fifty states. Bob and Moon also enjoyed traveling to Italy and Greece.
Bob also extensively researched Klopfenstein genealogy, tracing his Mennonite family tree all the way back to Michel Klopfenstein, born in Bern, Switzerland in 1544. Having been expelled from Switzerland for their Mennonite beliefs, the Klopfensteins spent a period in Belfort, France before emigrating to Indiana in 1848. His rebel grandfather, Jacob, was shunned from the faith in 1896 for marrying outside the Mennonite Church.
Bob travelled to Fort Wayne, Indiana in July 2018 with son David, grand-daughter Carrie and daughter-in-law Barbara for the Klopfenstein family reunion in July, 2018. Bob displayed his father’s VT proximity fuses, and his 15-year-old grand-daughter Carrie addressed the gathering to describe her visit (with mother Barbara) to Frutigen, Switzerland in the Berner Oberland, where they had traced their family tree back to 1840. There they meet their distant cousins, Hans, Hans Ulrich and Klopfenstein, traditional organic dairy farmers, in the summer of 2017. Carrie travelled to Switzerland on behalf of Bob, who was too ill to travel.
Above all, Bob devoted himself to his family, whom he cherished more than anything else in his life. Happily married for 52 years, he “held down the fort” at home so that Moon could pursue her career, going out to warm up her car every morning during winter, and cleaning snow off her car for her so that she could get to work. He not only made school lunches and cooked such delicacies as scrambled eggs and hot dogs for dinner, he took on leadership roles in his children’s extra-curricular activities. Having been an Eagle Scout himself, he served as Scoutmaster for David’s Boy Scout Troup. Recognizing that Krista had a talent for softball, he not only coached her team, he founded the AMA Softball League .
In times of difficulty, Bob was always “a rock.” Ever ready to help change a tire, pick up a grand-child after school or help a friend in need, Bob valued service above all. To his dying day, Bob’s thoughts were always of his family’s well-being. In addition, Bob embodied the touchstones of friendship—he hosted parties, played practical jokes and graciously became the butt of reciprocal practical jokes. When times got tough, he always stood ready to assist anyone in his community. Not flashy, not loud, but always loyal, reliable, loving and kind, Bob Klopfenstein showed us all what it means to be a good man—and for that we will always be grateful. He enriched the lives of everyone he touched, and he will live forever in our hearts as the ideal of a wonderful husband, father, grand-father and friend.
Bob will be lovingly remembered by his wife Moonyeen; children David, Krista and Dan; daughters-in-law Barbara and Liz; and grandchildren Carrie, Connor and Kyle. He will also be remembered by brother John Klopfenstein and his wife Joanne; sister Nancy Culton and her husband Gary; brother Tom Klopfenstein.
Visitation will be held Friday, December 14 from 3:00 to 7:00PM at Doherty Funeral Home, 3200 Limestone Road, Wilmington, Delaware. Services will be held Saturday, December 15 at 9:30AM at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 525 Polly Drummond Hill Road, Newark, Delaware followed by interment in All Saints Cemetery. Mourners are invited to lunch at Ebenezer Methodist following the burial service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Robert “Bob” Klopfenstein to: PD Clinic, University of Delaware at University of Delaware, Gifts Processing, 83 East Main St. 3rd Fl. Newark, DE 19716 (https://ud.alumniq.com/giving/to/18WBD). Donations may also be made to the Vietnam Veterans of America who were supportive of Bob during his illness: Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 83, 68 Danvers Circle, Newark, Delaware 19702.
Parkinson's Disease Clinic, University of Delaware Gifts Processing
83 East Main Street, 3rd Floor, Newark DE 19716
Vietnam Veterans of America - Chapter 83
68 Danvers Circle, Newark DE 19702