Klusman lived the life of “the Elder man”

Mark Klusman’s tragic passing during the end of December has left a legacy that will be almost impossible to fill.


Nate Sweeney '21

Mark pauses in late November during a video interview for freshman Nate Sweeney for his project in Mr. Rogers’ dramatic techniques class.

Video by Gary Rogers

Moderator’s note: Mark Klusman was the epitome of the Elder man. He was a volunteer without equal, a mentor, a friend and a living example of compassion and devotion on a level that few of us will ever comprehend. I was only lucky enough to share seven years with him here at Elder, but he taught me so much about how to live a Catholic life that will be with me forever. Many of us have been struggling with the events of this holiday break and why they had to happen. We may never know God’s ultimate plan for any of us, but I wanted to make sure I took the time to share a little more of Mark’s story with all of you in the Elder family.

Kathy Hirth
A triumvirate of great Elder facial hair at the staff Christmas gathering on December 3, 2017. Mark Klusman (center) with friends Dr. John Hageman (left) and Mr. Roger Auer (right)

Co-editor John Keehan interviewed Mr. Klusman in October and that story appeared in our October print edition. I am re-publisihng that story here in it’s entirety, along with a link to the actual interview audio that John used to craft his piece. I also received a copy of the interview by WLW’s Mike Allen with principal Kurt Ruffing in the days immediately following Mark’s passing.  A link to that audio is also contained in the story.

Click here to listen to the Mike Allen interview on WLW.

If you listen to that podcast, then you will note that at the end, Mike Allen asks for people to call in with stories about Mr. Klusman. On January 11, Tom Covenant emailed me with a link to the entire podcast. The note on SOUNDCLOUD says that the portion on Klusman will be the first 45 minutes. So my advice is to put this on while you are working at home and let it play as you listen to something that should be preserved as part of Elder history. Thank you, Mr. Covenant, and thank you WLW.

I was given the privilege to craft the images from the Klusman family archives into a video tribute to Mark that was able to be shown at the reception in the Schaeper center on January 3. This presentation was aided immeasurably not by my skill but by the contribution of former Elder faculty member Chuck Knepfle. Mr. Knepfle gave me three songs that he knew were favorites of Mark and I was able to weave these together with the images provided by the family into a remembrance of Mark that perhaps was able to preserve a little measure of the greatness of this man. The video can be seen just above this paragraph on the right side of the page.

courtesy of the Klusman family
In addition to being a beloved Elder Faculty member, Mark was also a loving uncle and great uncle.

I must tell you all that I was also struck during this first semester by the work of several of my freshman students in my dramatic techniques class. It seemed that whenever given the opportunity to add additional extraneous elements to their presentations, they were drawn to Mr. Klusman or “Klusdaddy” as they called him. And I now have several great shots and videos snippets of Mark in my students’ work from this semester. The feature image of this story is a still image from a video shot by Nate Sweeney, using Mark as a spokesman for a bogus commercial where he quotes one of his favorite points of reference: “The Man in the mirror.”


Teaching is not work for Klusman

Sharing knowledge, helping people grow and make choices

John Keehan ‘18

Elder’s very own Mr. Mark Klusman was born on July 9, 1943. He grew up knowing he was going to go to Elder, and he has only been absent for five years since he started school here.

Mr. Klusman’s brother went here, and he attended this fine school before graduating in 1961. While here he was very quiet and shy. He played guard on the offensive line for four years for football, and when he was a senior, he also played inside linebacker on defense.

courtesy of the Klusman family
A young Mark Klusman was a strong offensive lineman for the Elder football team.

He had a lot of favorite classes. He said, “I liked mechanical drawing. I liked the math classes and I liked the history classes.”

He liked so many classes because he enjoyed learning new things. “I actually enjoyed learning new things,” Mr. Klusman said. “I have always enjoyed that.”

After college, Mr. Klusman’s first choice was actually not teaching. “I was going to own my own business. My degree is in economics, and my minor is in history,” said Mr. Klusman.

He said he was inspired by his uncle to teach.

He has only ever taught at Elder. He claims he does not know why they hired him, but he is happy that they did.

Click here to listen to the the entire John Keehan interview with Mr. Klusman.

His only year he has ever worked in his life was the year after college when he worked at Kroger. “When I worked at Kroger’s, I had to go to work. Being a teacher I don’t have to go to work. I can go do what I like.”

taken from Elder yearbook
Mr. Klusman cuts a dashing figure teaching social studies in 1968; long before the familiar white hair and beard would become the trademark of this rock of the Elder faculty.

Mr. Klusman said the biggest difference for the students today vs. when he started teaching here and when he went here are the challenges we face. “The challenges for young people are all different today. There are more of them…and the facilities have changed a whole lot,” he said.

Now to make Mr. Klusman feel not young, this is how much the building has changed since he began working here. When Mr. Klusman began working here, it was just the main building. He saw the add on of the cafeteria, the fieldhouse, the Schaeper Center, and the PAC.

When he was just starting to teach here, it was like a class reunion for him every day. There were eight guys, including himself, from his graduating class teaching at Elder at the time. Today only two remain: Mr. Klusman and Mr. Kreimer.

Mr. Klusman started here as a history teacher. He taught American history, geography, world history, American government, and everything in between. He taught history until the 80’s when he switched to computers. “One of the reasons I like computers are that they change all the time. Every morning I have to get up and learn something new because something new is out there.”

Elder service archives
We couldn’t find many pics of Klus doing actual work (because of his camera shyness) but he was honored by several groups for his undying dedication to improving the live of those less fortunate.

Mr. Klusman’s favorite story about himself is why he grew out his hair. “I had short hair as a student. I had short hair through college. I was in the coast guard reserve for six months’ active duty and five and a half years of meetings and stuff. In boot camp they said no one can have hair long enough to part, and as soon as they said that, I said I can do that, so I decided to grow my hair longer and have it part by the time I got out of boot camp, and I did that.”

He grew out his hair because he does not like it when people tell him he can’t do something. It’s an attitude for him. If you believe you can’t do something, you’re right.

Mr. Klusman has taught for so long because he loves it. “I love teaching. I love sharing knowledge and helping people grow and make choices,” he said.

Mr. Klusman has two pieces of advice for anyone who takes the time to read this. The first is for the Elder students. “Do everything. Get involved in everything. Even if you are shy, do things… try to learn something new every day.”

The next thing is for everyone. If you use this quote, it will help you live your life to the fullest. “You’ve been given two things: life and a free will. Use them both.”


Mr. Fuell
One familiar place students would often see Mr. Klusman was catching a few well deserved moments of rest in the warm sun on the campus benches of Elder.