Madison - Henry Klimowicz Jr. passed away peacefully at home from Parkinson's disease on July 21, 2021. Hank was born on September 29, 1945 on the near south side of Milwaukee. After he moved to West Allis with his family in 1953, Hank found his passion for the outdoors and natural world, spending countless hours exploring the fields around his house and investigating the various rocks, critters, and plants. He enjoyed learning about and collecting rocks, minerals, and fossils for the rest of his life.
Hank discovered his love for the Great American Road Trip in the 1950s as he traveled with his family and cousins out West on several trips to Yellowstone National Park and beyond. Later, he regaled his children with tales from those trips, including the time his father fed both families with one can of soup after their car broke down in Idaho while taking a "shortcut." His travels as a child inspired him to write short stories and poems about these and other experiences.
Hank graduated from West Allis Hale in 1963 and then moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin. While an undergrad, Hank met Karen Christensen, a fellow student from Kenosha. What followed were many years of love, adventures, and best of all, three wonderful children. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geography in 1967 and a Masters in Geography in 1976.
In the 1970s, Hank worked at the Mendota Mental Health Institute and later for the U.S. Post Office, where he worked until retiring in 2006.
Hank loved basketball. Karen and Hank's first date was a Wisconsin Badgers game at the old Field House. When he started a family, he hoped to have five children so he could have an entire basketball team. Hank could be found many afternoons playing pick-up games at Tenney Park or the UW Shell. Although he was a Milwaukee Bucks fan, the Wisconsin Badgers were always first in his heart. He regularly took his family to Badgers games through the lean years in the 1970s and 80s and then became a season ticket holder as Wisconsin went to three Final Fours in the 21st Century.
Hank passed down his zeal for road trips to his children by taking them to his favorite places out West, including the Badlands and the Black Hills in South Dakota and Yellowstone. On these road trips, he enjoyed singing to his children, listening to music, and playing the harmonica. Because he was fascinated with unique names of small towns, he took his family to many obscure and out-of-the-way places such as Monkey's Eyebrow, Rabbit Hash, and Ten Sleep. Later he developed a game using these place names called Lost in America and even wrote an essay about communities named after animals such as Lizard Lick, North Carolina, and Frogtown, Illinois.
In 1979, Hank began collecting seashells after discovering Sanibel Island. Shelling quickly became one of his favorite leisure pursuits as he visited Sanibel annually, often
getting up before dawn to find that perfect shell. He created beautiful displays of the treasures he found and later sold them to people around the country.
He also loved travelling internationally with his family and his best friends, Greg and Barb Sheehy, to far-off places, including Egypt, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tahiti. Some of his favorite travels were to Paris, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
Hank's favorite indoor activity was chess. He enjoyed teaching the game to his children while they were growing up. Later, he would while away the hours playing chess on the internet, sometimes with more than 25 simultaneous games.
Hank was also the consummate collector. He spent a lifetime collecting Pre-Prohibition beer cans, bottles, and trays, unusual cigar labels, coins and currency from around the world, maps, and exotic insects.
His unending curiosity about the world made him an avid reader of history and the natural world. His favorite authors were Mark Twain and Jack London.
But Hank's greatest joy in life was being a husband, father, and grandfather. He gave many of his wonderful and quirky interests and traits to his children, including his great sense of humor, his strong work-ethic, his taste for sweets - like pie for breakfast, his passion for travel, and his love of the natural world. Hank loved to lavish his grandchildren with goodies, silliness, and love.
He is survived by Karen, his wife of 53 years; his son, Jason Klimowicz and his wife, Rebecca Eberhardt, and their children, Thane, Nastassja, and Emily; his daughter Amy Klimowicz and her husband Keith Warnke, and their children, Sophia and Olivia; and his daughter, Katie Klimowicz and her husband, Greg Berger, and their children Ella and Katya. He is also survived by his sister, Kathy Karklus, and his brother, Tom Klimowicz, and their families. Hank was preceded in death by his parents, Henry Sr. and Ruth.
Services will be held on Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 at Cress Funeral and Cremation Service, 3610 Speedway Rd. Madison, WI 53705. Visitation will be held at 10:00 am with a service to follow at 11:00 am.
His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, https://donorbox.org/donate-to-sccf
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
- Robert Frost
Cress Funeral & Cremation Services
3610 Speedway Road
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