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Remembering Dick Klingaman; developed Waterloo from the ground up

Remembering Dick Klingaman; developed Waterloo from the ground up

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WATERLOO — Dick Klingaman’s imprint can be seen across the southern Waterloo skyline.

The farmer-turned-developer, who built Timberline Condominiums, Ekho Ridge Townhomes, StowAway Storage and Goose Creek Truck Plaza in the U.S. Highway 20 corridor, died Sunday at Friendship Village Pavilion. He was 93.

“The building projects he developed on the family farm were near and dear to him,” said his daughter Soo Greiman. “What was most appealing to him was being able to get on his crawler and do the dirt work for those projects.

“He did love digging in the dirt, and he willingly admitted that,” she added. “In his later years one of his favorite projects was building an earthen dike around a piece of farm ground off Highway 63 that was prone to flooding.”

Friend Frank Seng also remembered the tremendous amount of energy Klingaman put into his projects.

“Dick was one of these guys that got up early in the morning,” Seng said. “He did a lot of work in the developments himself, and you’d see him out there at five in the morning moving dirt.”

Richard Fleming was born in Waterloo but spent his childhood in California.

He returned to Waterloo to live with his uncle and aunt, Earl and Edna Klingaman, where he helped grow crops and raise hogs and cattle, and eventually took their name.

The Orange High School graduate served in the U.S. Army during the later stages of World War II and was among the first troops to disembark at Nagasaki, Japan, shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped.

“I was 18 years old and was tough as nails,” Klingaman told the Courier in 2012 about the scene that deeply affected him. “It made me grow older real fast — so many burn victims. Everything was destroyed.”

Klingaman became a successful farmer after the war and won numerous awards for his crops and purebred hogs. But the agriculture recession sparked an interest in development, which started with the 80-home Timberline Condominiums project.

“At the time that was a very innovative concept,” Seng said. “The idea was to get people in homes for less money, and it allowed housing for people that might not be able to afford a house otherwise. But Dick was always one to come up with ideas like that.”

Klingman’s efforts led him to be named Waterloo Citizen of the Year in 1986, and he was honored as a Waterloo Courier Eight Over 80 Award winner in 2012. He was also a longtime member of the National Cattle Congress Board.

Greiman said one of the last projects Klingaman considered was a race track on part of the family farm near Hudson. While there were many supporters, Klingaman dropped the idea when others voiced opposition.

“He loved his community, and didn’t want to be known as someone who splits a community apart,” Greiman said. “He said, ‘I want too to build a community.’”

Private family services were being handled by Locke Funeral Home in Waterloo, with burial in Orange Township Cemetery. A celebration of life will be scheduled later.

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