Fred William Klatt Jr.
Fred William Klatt, Jr., 92, died on Saturday, July 28, 2012, at his home in Cedar Hill, N.M., surrounded by his immediate family.
Fred was born in Montrose, Colo., March 3, 1920, the son of Fred W. Klatt, Sr., and Mary Lytle Klatt. The family moved to Durango in the ‘20s, and he and his brothers (Ron and Gene) grew up in Durango. Fred attended elementary school, junior high and graduated from Durango High School in 1938. He attended Ft. Lewis College near Hesperus for two years, where he met his future wife of 69 years, Margaret Rutledge. He played football, basketball and tennis, and worked in many areas to put himself through school, including hard rock mining.
Fred enrolled in the Army Air Corps in 1941, entering the Cadet Program. He graduated from that program, and while en route to his first posting as an officer in the Philippines, his transport ship departed from Honolulu on Dec. 5, 1941, two days before Pearl Harbor was attacked. After initial confusion, his ship convoyed with others and sailed to Australia. He spent the balance of his overseas duty in the South Pacific, primarily in New Guinea, where he flew A-24 dive bombers and A-20 Havoc twin engine attack aircraft. Fred flew 39 missions, was awarded several medals (including the Silver Star) and commendations before contracting malaria. The balance of his wartime experience was in various Southern U.S. Air Corp Bases, primarily in training and flight commander duties. Fred married Margaret June 21, 1943; son Fred III was born in 1944, and daughter Marianne in 1945. He left the service as a major in the reserves in 1947.
Returning to his hometown of Durango, Mr. Klatt became a partner in a flying service operating from Reservoir Hill (now College Heights), training over 75 pilots under the G.I. Bill. Selling his partnership, Fred was offered a job with Monarch Airlines, which later merged to form Frontier Airlines. He was with the airlines until 1963, when he resigned to open Klatt Travel, Inc. Fred retired in 1982, and he and Margaret enjoyed a happy retirement living over the years in Durango, Yuma, Ariz., Vallecito, Dolores, and finally in New Mexico for the past couple of years.
Mr. Klatt is preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Mary, his brothers, Ron and Gene, and his granddaughter, Kim Klatt Titus.
Fred is survived by his wife, Margaret, and son, Fred III, both of Cedar Hill; daughter, Marianne Windsor, of Bayfield; daughter-in-law, Jené Klatt (Fred’s wife), three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is fondly remembered by his family and his many friends and associates as a gregarious, friendly and generous man of remarkable talents and interests.
A military ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, at the Veterans Memorial site at Greenmount Cemetery, followed at 2 p.m. by a Remembrance Celebration at the Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) Lodge.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to ALSAC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 5575 DTC Parkway, Suite 145, Greenwood Village, CO 80111; or to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 3434, Durango, CO 81302.