There is an empty place at the breakfast table. Arthur “Morris” Klare passed away on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at the age of 90 years young—just a short 14 days before their 70th wedding anniversary. Having been married in Utopia, TX Jo Ann and Morris had almost 70 years of love, fun, and amazing adventures. It all began after he walked across the stage receiving his degree from Texas A&I in agriculture and teaching with high honors. He loaded up his 1953 Chevy with everything they owned and put a 16-foot boat on the back. With his lovey bride and new baby, he headed for the wilds of Montana for their most amazing life of adventures. He will be remembered by many as a kind and helpful community member. He was involved with the Bozeman Optimist Club, Elks Club, Masons, and The Algerian Shrine Club. The Algerian Shrine Clowns were seen at many parades in Western Montana. His handiwork is found all over Bozeman as he was a brick and stone mason in his early years.
He came to Bozeman with his father-in-law, Russell Rehm, in 1954. Nelson Story asked them to build a memorial for his son up the Gallatin canyon. Russell Rehm and Morris Klare were the stone masons on what is now a centerpiece of the canyon, the Soldiers Chapel. He built a home behind the chapel on 35 acres, and painted it forest green so it would not be seen through the window facing Lone Mountain. Having no way to get across West Fork Creek he built with the help of wife Jo Ann a 120-foot-long log bridge from trees harvested from the area. This bridge remained in use until the mid-70’s when it was replaced by a flatbed rail car bridge. To this day the bridge remains there having been washed out a few years ago but replaced.
He would commute to Bozeman during the week plowing his way out all most every morning during the winter to get to work. In 1959 he was working on the Sun Ranch main house on the Madison the night the mountain fell. As the Lord watched over him, he was going to stay at the campground that is under the slide but there was no room. He went down the road and camped along the Madison River. The earthquake hit that night and at daybreak, he tried to get home, but the road was blocked and had to go the long way. Along with Russell Rehm they went toward Hebgen Lake to assist in anything they could. They were some of the first people to arrive at Duck Creek Y. He later was involved in the reconstruction of the stone guard rails in Yellowstone Park damaged by the earthquake.
He decided that working in the cold winter and commuting 45 miles to town wasn’t working for him. He decided to go back to school and get a master's degree in teaching. He noticed a note on the wall that teachers were needed in American Samoa. He went home and asked Jo Ann what she thought about applying for the jobs there. She said, “Is that on the hi-line?” They both were hired as teachers and moved to the south Pacific for two years. Upon the end of the contract, they were offered jobs in Palau, Trust Territory of the Pacific. Morris was the District Agricultural Manager for three years. He gave up the amazing island life so his oldest son could come back and attend high school in Bozeman.
Upon returning to Bozeman during the early years of Chet Huntley’s dream of building Big Sky he converted some of the land across West Fork into a trailer park for the construction workers and early business owners of Big Sky. He became the manager of the State Liquor store on Grant. After a few years, the store was too small for the growing community of Bozeman. The state wanted to build a bigger store, so he put in a bid for its construction. He received the contract for the new Montana State Liquor store. With the help of a few workers along with his son and father-in-law it was built in short order. He remained manager till the state changed to the current way they sell liquor some 20 years later.
He went into selling real estate for a few years. One day his supervisor from his time working in the Trust Territory of the Pacific gave him a visit in Bozeman. He was recruited to work for FEMA as a Disaster Assessment Manager. He worked in disaster relief for over 20 years. His involvement covered many tropical storms along the gulf coast and east coast as well as floods, fires in California, as well as the attack on New York on 9/11.
As a member of the Riverside County Club for over 45 years, his love for golf remained paramount. He played a very boring golf game always in the fairway and not in the trees and had two holes in one.
Morris was preceded in passing by his father and mother, Arthur and Lilian Klare. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Jo Ann Klare; sisters, Jean Wheeler and Gloria Holly; sons, Russell (Patsy) Klare and Kevin (Carrie) Klare; grandchildren, Josh Klare, Melissa Klare, Tom Klare, Amber Paul; as well as seven great-grandchildren.
Please join us in celebrating Morris’ life at the Riverside Country Club on August 2 from 4 to 7 P.M. In leu of flowers please donate to the Bozeman Shrine Club in his honor.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]