Memorial set for teacher who died in climbing accident
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 15, 2010 · Updated 12:09 PM
If a man’s life can be measured by the things people say about him after he’s gone, then Dallas Kloke did something right.
In the few weeks since his death, the sheer number of people that have come forward with stories or comments about how the 71-year-old Anacortes resident and former Oak Harbor School District teacher made a difference in their lives is astonishing — even for those who knew him best.
“I can’t believe the things they are saying about him,” said Kristi Kloke, Dallas Kloke’s daughter.
“I really had no idea,” she said. “Dad didn’t talk about himself.”
Dallas Kloke died in a climbing accident while scaling one of the Pleiades peaks in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest with four friends on Sept. 25. The party was just reaching the summit when a rock he was holding broke loose.
The news of his death rocked communities throughout Skagit and Island counties. Kloke’s status and respect as a Northwest mountaineer was near legendary, but many will remember him for his efforts below the tree line.
“Dad touched a lot of lives,” Kristi Kloke said.
He meant so much to so many people, the Klokes will hold a public memorial service at Anacortes High School next weekend, Oct. 16. Private services were held for family and close friends last week.
Kloke retired after a 30-year career as a sixth grade Oak Harbor Middle School teacher in 1995. He went on to spend more than a decade training Anacortes High School students in track. It seemed that he always had some student that he was mentoring, said Kristi Kloke, coaching them to be top-notch long distance runners.
The man was quite the runner himself, having placed second in a USA Masters Track and Field event in Sacramento, Calif., this summer. He is also the founder of several running races, from the Tulip Run in Oak Harbor and Sunset Loop Relay in Anacortes to the Mount Erie Fun Run.
Kloke’s passions weren’t limited to activities involving extreme athletics. When he wasn’t making children’s books for his grandchildren or friends’ children, he was often doing work for his church’s charity group, St. Vincent de Paul.
“All I can think of is that he was a better man than I am,” said Mark DesVoigne, who is also a retired Oak Harbor school teacher and one of Kloke’s close friends.
DesVoigne, Kloke, and another man, Howard Armstrong, were close climbing partners for more than 30 years. DesVoigne is an extremely skilled mountaineer, having scaled precipices from Mount Rainier to the Matterhorn in the Alps between Switzerland and Italy.
But his skill level was below that of Kloke’s, which he said was about 12 on a scale of one to 10. Many in the climbing community considered Kloke a true master.
“It was like watching a ballet,” DesVoigne said. “It was just a pleasure to watch him.”
Kloke is the author of a handful of climbing guides and manuals, having pioneered new routes on peaks across the state. Despite his mastery after more than 50 years of climbing, Kloke never let it go to his head, DesVoigne said.
“It didn’t make a difference if you’d been climbing for years or were a novice,” he said. “He climbed with three or four generations.”
DesVoigne was with Kloke the day he died. Although he said he initially regretted agreeing to go on that fateful climb, he said he is now grateful that he was able to be with his friend on his last adventure.
“He was a close friend,” he said.
Kristi Kloke said the past two weeks have been tough for everyone in her family. No one was prepared or expecting an accident after a climbing career that spanned half a century. However, knowing that he died while climbing, one of his greatest passions in life, and among friends, is a comfort.
“My dad was in his element,” she said. “He was doing what he loved to do. I’m thankful for that.”
Kloke leaves behind his wife, Carolyn, their three children, Kristi, Steve, and Neal; and two grandchildren, Jessalyn and Kaitlyn.
A public memorial service honoring Dallas Kloke will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in Brodiak Hall at Anacortes High School.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.