John R. Klug attended Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, MO (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) where he lettered four years on the varsity football team and was on the rifle team. He graduated in 1940 with a degree in Mining Engineering. Afterwards he worked for St. Joseph Lead Mine Company in Flat River, MO, where he met a beautiful young woman named Connie Winsor. They married June 14, 1942 just before he entered the Army as a private.
He earned the highest score in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He was recommended for Officer Candidate School and later trained at Fort McCain, MS, accompanied by his young bride.
He deployed to Europe with the 166th Combat Engineer Battalion, serving in Patton’s 3rd Army, and he landed at Utah Beach in August 1944. Fighting was fierce as his unit fought through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. They blew and built bridges, and served as infantry when needed. He was second in command as Major, and at 166th reunions through the years the men honored him as one of their most effective leaders.
The 166th liberated Blois, France and was honored in 1999 at a 55th reunion there, which John and his sons attended. He supervised the construction of a camp for 10,000 POWs in Germany. He received a letter from his mother near the end of the war about the village his family came from, and he recalled the small village specifically as having an effect on him. He later would reunite with his German family and visited several times.
He retired from active duty in 1946. He returned to the States to Connie and to his young son, John Robert, Jr., born while he was overseas. They moved to Tulsa where he worked for a division of Standard Oil. He continued in the Army Reserves and was Commander of the Lebanon Army Reserve Battalion.
In 1947, when John and his family moved to Lebanon, he acquired the first Lincoln-Mercury franchise in Lebanon and worked with his father-in-law at Winsor Motor Company. In 1948 he bought the Western Auto store, where he sold appliances in addition to auto parts. The introduction of home electricity through the Rural Electrification Administration resulted in a tremendous demand for electrical products, and Western Auto supplied wiring and appliances to homes throughout Laclede County during these early years of the new technology. Western Auto also extended credit to customers in the days before credit cards.
He served as County and City Surveyor and Engineer, Lebanon Public Works Superintendent, and president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association. He later decided to curtail his civic involvement to concentrate on his family and home.
John began planning a larger home as soon as his family came to Lebanon, and in 1956 the family, which now included four children, moved to Colonial Park on 80 acres. The home place provided a wonderful work and play experience for the children, with horses, cattle, sheep, and chickens. John and Connie instilled a deep sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic in their children through farm work as well as working at the store.
John endured a significant loss when his store burned in 1969 just days before son Harry’s wedding. He decided to rebuild and continued another 15 years in business.
John served on several scholarship boards for Missouri University of Science and Technology through his involvement with the alumni association, and he remained active with the Fort Leonard Wood retired officers group. His military battalion is honored in the Corps of Engineers Museum at the Fort.
Travel was a great pleasure for John and Connie. He had a keen mind and intense interest in geology and history. Their travels took them to Egypt, Mexico, Israel, Peru, and much of Europe. In 1967, through letters his father wrote to German relatives and sleuthing by son John, the American Klugs were reunited with the German Klugs. His father’s first cousin Georg is 96 and lives in Regensburg, Germany. John and Connie visited several times and remain close with many of John’s German relatives. All their children have visited and forged relationships with those in the home country.
With his background as an engineer, he had an interest in new technology. He bought the original Macintosh computer within weeks after its debut and continued to lead the family into computers, fax machines, and other new technology. His profound ability to organize and notate, seen in his detailed records of the store and home and tractors, was enhanced greatly with the advent of the personal computer.
John built Colonial Park to be a training ground and source of permanence for his children. He chose to pursue stability and a foundation for his family rather than his engineering career after the war. The entire family gathered for a wonderful reunion this summer and will always treasure that memory. John achieved so much in his life, and although his mind was dimmed in recent years, he remained strong, loving, and cheerful.