NORTH MANCHESTER – Charles Daniel Klingler, 96, died on March 22, 2023.

He was born, the second of three sons, to Freeman Lloyd Klingler and Nettie Pearl Thomas Klingler on April 7, 1926, on a small farm near Beaverdam in Allen County, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents; by brothers, Paul and John; and by a daughter, Susan. Surviving him are his wife; his children David, Robert, Rebecca, Thomas, John and Mark; and nine grandchildren.

From boyhood, he excelled as a student. In his senior year of high school, he made the highest score in the county on the state scholarship test; and his poem “My Heart, Too Young to Bear” won the county poetry contest. Drafted into the Army a month after his graduation in 1944 and two months after the death of his 10-year-old brother Paul by cancer, he shortly received an appointment to West Point. When World War II ended in August 1945, he resigned his appointment and entered Manchester College.

He graduated in 1948 with teaching credentials in English and mathematics, and with encouragement, by vote of the college faculty, to become a college teacher. A year later, he married his college sweetheart, Susie Marie Stoner. From 1948 to 1959, he taught in high schools in Mount Morris, Ill.; Columbus, Ind.; and Kokomo; and earned a master’s degree in English at Indiana University. In 1959, he accepted the invitation of President A. Blair Helman to teach English at Manchester. Thanks to financial incentives from the college, he was able to complete his work for the PhD in 1970, with a thesis titled “Some Principles of Meaning and Structure in the Poetry of Hart Crane.” He was now a full professor and chair of the department. He was also the father of seven children ranging in age from 6 to 19.

He loved language and literature, and indeed all learning; and it was a joy to him that conversations at Sunday dinners fell easily into such topics. There were usually non-family guests present — often international ones. Susie was remembered, with affection, for her role as hostess. Charles grew increasingly, on these occasions, to admire her loving ways.

Charles served his profession of English by filling, consecutively, the roles of secretary, vice president and president of the Indiana College English Association. In 1969, he became interested in the work of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, serving for a time as secretary of the Fort Wayne chapter and then of the state board of directors.

He was a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren. When at 19 he resigned his appointment to West Point, the church’s teaching against war influenced his decision. For a time, on a trial basis, he was licensed to the ministry. He loved singing in the choir. He often wrote religious poems, and sometimes both the words and the music of hymns. Now and then he felt that, like the lark in one of Shakespeare’s poems, he sang “at heaven’s gate.” From another poet came the echo: “My mind to me a kingdom is.” In that kingdom Charles found great freedom, acknowledged by yet another of his remembered poets:

“Fishes, that tipple in the deep,

Know no such liberty.”

Charles’s children and grandchildren admired his wisdom, kindness and generosity. Throughout his life, he was concerned with the well-being of others and made sure his family was cared for and encouraged. As a prolific writer from childhood, he also wrote poetry; tributes to friends, family and local institutions; words and music of prayers, hymns and songs sung frequently by his family; and a journal of remarkable detail for nearly 40 years. His loved ones have been moved by the outpouring of sympathy from former students, friends and colleagues whose lives were changed by knowing him.

A celebration of Charles’s life will be held at a later date.  

For those who wish to honor the memory of Charles Klingler, memorial contributions may be made to Timbercrest Senior Living Community, P.O. Box 501, North Manchester, IN 46962; or Manchester Church of the Brethren, 1306 Beckley St., North Manchester, IN 46962; or Manchester University Charles Klingler Scholarship Fund, 604 East College Ave., North Manchester, IN 46962.

The family of Charles Klingler has entrusted McKee Mortuary with care and final arrangements.

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