Luverne "Coach" KlarThe Celebration service will be held April 22 from 5-8 p.m. at the Loose Moose Saloon and Convention Center at 119 S. Front Street in downtown Mankato. "Everyone is invited to participate in Coach Klar's final practice," according to Klar's obituary, which offered an invitation for attendees to share stories and memories. Friends and family wishing to make memorial gifts are encouraged to honor Klar with contributions to the Coach Klar Memorial Fund.
A private family service for Klar has already been held at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Mankato, followed by burial with military honors at Woodland Hills Memorial Park in Mankato.
Born in Osage, Iowa in June 1922, Luverne Klar was introduced to the sport that became a long-time element of his life at Osage High School. He had an outstanding high school wrestling career under "Mitch" Mitchell, his high school coach, who guided Osage to undefeated seasons during Klar's four years as a member of the team. Klar, an Iowa high school state champ at 118 pounds as a senior in 1941, was a key member of the team that won the state team title in 1940 and state team runner-up in 1941.
After serving in Japan during World War II, Klar enrolled at what was then called Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls in 1947. Wrestling for head coach Dave McCuskey, Klar counted some legendary wrestlers among his Panther teammates, including Keith Young, Bill Smith, Bill Nelson, Gerry Leeman, Russ Bush, and Bob Siddens (long-time Waterloo West High wrestling coach who can count among his wrestlers Dan Gable in the mid-1960s). The Panthers placed finished second in the 1949 NCAA tournament and were team champions in 1950. Klar was a two-time NCAA All-American, placing third at 136 pounds at the 1949 NCAAs, and fourth at 120 at the 1950 NCAAs held at the West Gym on the UNI campus.
Upon graduation with a teaching degree in 1950, Klar first taught and coached wrestling at the Northern Iowa Campus School for one year, then headed north to Mankato to accept a teaching position at Mankato High School, coach the baseball team, and launch a wrestling program. During his 36 years at Mankato High -- later renamed Mankato West -- Klar coached the Scarlet to 359 dual meet wins, 158 losses, and 11 ties for a .690 winning percentage. His Mankato teams won a Minnesota state title in 1964, was runner-up six times, and placed among the top four teams a number of years at the state championships. In addition, Klar coached fifteen individual state champions. When he wasn't coaching, Klar taught Health, Physical Education, and Driver's Ed.
In 1996, Klar was welcomed into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, Iowa which honors wrestlers, coaches and others involved in the sport who have roots in the state of Iowa. In addition, Klar is enshrined in the National Wresting Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Mankato West Hall of Fame in 2015.