American Veteran 04

Leo James Klaes

July 30, 1931 ~ November 13, 2022 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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Leo Klaes, beloved husband and father, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on November 13, 2022. He was 91 years old.

Leo is preceded in death by his parents Frank & Philomena Klaes, and two brothers, Frank and Jerry Klaes.

Leo was known to many throughout his life as a “Gentle Giant” and was affectionately referred to by his children as, “S.O.D.” (Sweet Ol’ Dad).

Leo graduated from the University of Detroit with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering, where he was inducted as a member of Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society. He also enrolled in the ROTC Air Force program and went on to serve in the United States Air Force. His rank was Captain at the time of his honorable discharge.

Following his military service, Leo worked for many years at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. Notably, Leo was part of the design team of the USS Enterprise, the largest aircraft carrier in the world at the time and the first nuclear powered carrier.

Leo continued his career as a Nuclear Engineer with Tennessee Valley Authority. He retired from TVA in 1995 after over 20 years of service.

Leo’s love of God and his strong Catholic Christian faith was evident in all he did. Pure of heart, kind, and giving, he devoted his life to serving others. In addition to serving his country through his military service, Leo gave his time, talent, and treasure to his church and various charities in his community. Most of all, he expressed God’s love in his dedication to his family. Leo served as a role model of impeccable integrity & patience, providing loving guidance and support to his family, always maintaining a calm demeanor even when tested. His smile continued throughout all challenges, which made a lasting impact on his family, as well as all those who crossed his path.

Leo had a passion for music, singing in choirs including the Scenic City Chorale and various church choirs throughout his life. He was a founding and faithful member of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, where he started the choir and served as choir director for many years. He was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Leo was a notable inspiration to his children and many others for his healthy lifestyle and fit physique, particularly in his later years. He was an avid bodybuilder, and continued to lift weights into his 70’s. He also enjoyed gardening & landscaping, having a talent at designing and bringing to life a gorgeous yard.

He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 59 years, Jean.

Leo also leaves behind 5 children: Theresa Tiner and her husband Gary of Soddy Daisy, TN,
Kathleen Penner of Waxhaw, NC, Leo Klaes and his fiancée Jenny Keily of Austin, TX,
David Klaes and his wife Michelle of Lebanon, TN, and Christine White and her husband Sam of Waxhaw, NC.

Leo has nine grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Leo is survived by 2 loving sisters: Polly Wagner and husband Frank of Chesapeake, VA, and Mary Ann Bodary and husband Alden of New Boston, MI.

The family will receive friends at Williamson & Sons Funeral Home, Soddy-Daisy on Friday, 11/18/2022 from 5-8pm, with a prayer service to be held at 7:30pm.

The funeral service will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, 11/19/2022 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Soddy-Daisy, with Monsignor Al Humbrecht officiating.

The Klaes family would like to express sincere gratitude for the compassionate care provided by the staff of the Dayton team of Hospice of Chattanooga. Special thanks as well to additional caregivers Roxanna Oceguera and Elizabeth Dresser whose loving care Leo, Jean and family could not have done without. All of these beautiful people were essential in keeping Leo comfortable and otherwise healthy in his final years.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Leo’s honor to Holy Spirit Catholic Church Soddy Daisy.

Condolences and memories may be shared at
Arrangements are by Williamson and Sons Funeral Home, 8852 Dayton Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN 37379.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leo James Klaes, please visit our floral store.


November 18, 2022

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Williamson & Sons Funeral Home
8852 Dayton Pike
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379

Memorial Mass
November 19, 2022

2:00 PM
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
10768 Dayton Pike
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379


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