Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bwana Bill Klaus 1937 - 2010

Dr. William G. Klaus passed away last week in East Aurora New York; he was 72. Sometimes news is slow to reach us ex-pats, I heard it a week late on Facebook, (thanks Spencer.)

When I was a kid growing up there, the history teachers were always my favorites: Clack, Hoover, Glass, Gomlak, but Bwana was the finest kind. I read that he ended up being the department head, which is funny considering that he always seemed to be in hot water. His classroom was usually in a state of insurrection and his apartment was often under invasion. So many of us tried his patience and tried to wear out our welcome. Generations of students outraged his neighbors and the school administration.

The legends were legion. A Fulbright Grant trip to Africa became fodder for scandal, and then there was Claudia the girlfriend, allegedly chauffeured around in a U-Haul. Bwana endured it all with humor, even if his ears turned a little red.

I took classes from Bwana, I took his electives. He taught history and world affairs and managed to make it stick for many of us. For years we would try to trick him into giving up an opinion in class, but that came easier after hours when he had a few Buds in him.

I see that he chaired the East Aurora Democrats, sorry to have missed that. I was one of the first flock of eighteen-year-old voters, and with the draft nipping at our heels, you can bet that we got mobilized. Being a Democrat in tory Toy Town was like joining the insurgency. We had a small but close-knit group, bickering, hopeless, but not without enthusiasm. Bwana would roll his eyes when the pipe-chomping and prolix Phil Kadett took the floor. I recall a Party picnic with Bwana, Dave Daniels, and a cast of dozens. I rode to the post-party with C.C. Laidman, and she put her truck in the ditch, launching the truckload of kegs and cases across the countryside. A swell time.

I’m surprised not to find an obit in the Buffalo News after all the copy he furnished them over the years. What will Olab Fuzz do for a quote now?

So now Bwana has moved on to the next world. I imagine him there still teaching, organizing, fighting the good fight, and later sitting down at the poker table. His students are grown now, and have no doubt taught their own progeny to ask questions, get informed, and go after it. Well done Dr. Klaus.


At 6:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tell that story about the crash and no one believes it! I can still remember, vividly, as I started pressing the brakes to make the right hand turn onto Blakeley and I believe I said something to you like, holy shit hang on!!! I still wish I'd had a video of the old couple going out onto their porch in the AM for their coffee... cherve


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