Posted by:Ben Hill | Published: March 9, 2022

In Memoriam: Col. Lawrence Kloess

Theta Chi Fraternity is saddened to announce Col. Lawrence H. Kloess, Jr. (Alpha Phi/Alabama 1954) has entered the Chapter Eternal.

Brother Kloess was a contributing and involved member of Theta Chi and Alpha Phi Chapter since his initiation more than 70 years ago and is the epitome of a Theta Chi for Life.

Alpha Phi alumni nominated Brother Kloess for the Fraternity’s Earl D. Rhodes Theta Chi for Life Award which was quickly approved. Norwich Housing Corporation President (and Alpha Phi alumnus) Wes Wicker (1979) presented the award to Brother Kloess on Monday, February 28, 2022. According to Larry Kloess, III (Alpha Phi/Alabama 1976), it had been one of the best days in terms of health and strength his dad had experienced in a while. Brother Wicker reports that Brother Kloess was truly honored and appreciative of the award.

Four days later, on March 4, Brother Kloess entered the Chapter Eternal.

In honor and in memory of Brother Kloess we share portions of his nomination for the Rhodes Theta Chi for Life Award and his obituary.

Rest in Peace Brother Kloess. We thank you for your Helping Hand!

In the late 1950s, Alpha Phi’s oldest alumni (primarily from the 1920s) began to organize a house corporation in anticipation of building the first house on what would become known as “New Fraternity Row” at the University of Alabama. Those brothers recruited Larry Kloess (1954), a freshly minted law school graduate, to serve as the youngest member of the board. 

Over the seven years following the completion of the new house, the house corporation lapsed into dormancy and newer and larger fraternity houses were being built at Alabama. This led the collegiate leadership to consider adding a new wing to the chapter house. In seeking out the dormant alumni corporation, they found Charter Member (and future International Treasurer) Harry Lackey (1927) who agreed to be part of the effort and serve as President of the reconstituted corporation, “If Larry Kloess will run it.” Larry agreed to serve as Secretary of the Alpha Phi of Theta Chi House Corporation and held the position for at least two decades, transitioning during that time from the youngest alumnus on the board to the oldest.

Alpha Phi’s new wing became a reality in 1971 thanks in no small measure to Brother Kloess’ generous gifts of time, treasure, and legal talents.

Brother Kloess’ service to Theta Chi went well beyond merely serving on the house corporation board. He was a frequent visitor to the house, never missing an alumni event, and always made himself available to chapter officers.

When his three of his four sons came to Alabama, they naturally followed in their father’s footsteps and were initiated into the Fraternity: Larry III (1976), Price (1979), and David (1985). All were outstanding brothers following in the father’s tradition of leadership. Branch, the youngest of the four sons attended a college where there was no Theta Chi chapter and chose not to join another fraternity. Branch Kloess was initiated into Theta Chi during Alpha Phi’s 90th Anniversary (chaired by his oldest brother, Larry III), with his father delivering the alumnus charge.

The Kloess brothers remain involved in the alumni activities of the chapter. Larry III served as the first President of the “reorganized” Alumni Association. Matthew Kloess (2021), the first grandson to attend Alabama, served Alpha Phi as a very successful Recruitment Chairman.

Together the Kloess Family made a lead gift to the construction of Alpha Phi’s latest “new house”, and its library is named in Brother Kloess’ honor and includes an oil portrait. There is a display in the museum at the International Headquarters regarding Theta Chi during the Bing Band era made possible, in part, by artifacts donated by Brother Kloess. He endowed a scholarship at Alabama benefiting a member of Theta Chi. Larry III endowed a second scholarship also benefitting a member of the chapter, again following in his father’s footsteps.

You can view Brother Kloess’ obituary as it appeared in the Montgomery Advertiser here.   

Montgomery - Colonel Lawrence Herman Kloess, Jr. (Larry), local lawyer and resident of Montgomery, passed away on March 4, 2022. He was born on January 30, 1927 in Mamaroneck (Westchester County), New York, and was the son of the late Lawrence Herman Kloess and Harriette Holly Kloess.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, the former Eugenia (Jean) Ann Underwood, formerly of Birmingham. Kloess and his wife had four married sons, Lawrence H. Kloess, III (Karen) of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, Dr. Price M. Kloess (Joy) of Birmingham, Alabama, Branch D. Kloess (Carol) of Montgomery, Alabama, and David H. Kloess (Janice) of Marietta, Georgia; and 11 grandchildren: Emily Kloess York (Andrew), Jason Kloess, Brandon Kloess, Jr. (Marissa), Lawrence Kloess, IV, Lauren Kloess Razick, Rachel Kloess Taslimi (Ray), Margaret Kloess Garcia (Zenon), Madeleine Kloess, Matthew Kloess, Emma Kloess, and James Kloess; and 7 great grandchildren: Jackson York, Elizabeth Ruth York, Emerson Katherine Kloess, Hardy Razick, Branch Donelson Kloess, III, Solomon Thane Taslimi, and Pace Razick.

Kloess Obit Photo

Prior to graduating high school, Mr. Kloess enlisted in the U. S. Navy upon reaching the age of 17, and served in the Navy Amphibious Forces in the South Pacific during World War II, taking part in the Philippines Leyte Liberation and later the invasion of Okinawa, followed by an assignment to an expeditionary force to liberate Korea from Japanese occupation. Later, he was assigned with his crew to the Eighth Nationalist Chinese Army carrying its troops from Kowloon and landing them in North China against the Chinese Communist Forces in 1945.

He then returned home, finished high school, and attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity, and obtained a BA degree in History. He went on to the University of Alabama Law School and received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1956, and while attending law school was president of his law fraternity. He was licensed to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Appellate and District Courts, and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals.

Having also graduated from the U.S. Air Force ROTC program at the University of Alabama as a Second Lieutenant, he served briefly on active duty and remained in the active Air Force Reserve with a total of 34 years of service retiring as a Colonel in the Judge Advocate General Department of the U.S. Air Force. Colonel Kloess completed the Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. His military achievements include serving as president of the Montgomery Chapter of the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, and later as president of the State of Alabama Department of the same organization. His military decorations in addition to those received during World War II, include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

In 1977 and 1979, Colonel Kloess was selected the Outstanding Judge Advocate of the Air Force Reserve. He served as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 908th Tactical Airlift Group at Maxwell AFB from 1969-1982, and retired as the Air University Staff Judge Advocate Mobilization Augmentee.

In 2008, Colonel Kloess was selected as a member of the first Honor Flight of World War II veterans from the Central Alabama area to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC.

He was a life member of the Montgomery Country Club and also a member of the Wynlakes Country Club, Arrowhead Country Club, and the Capital City Club downtown. He was an active Rotarian having served as President of both the Rotary Club of Montgomery and the Montgomery Capital Rotary Club where he was a charter member. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and chaired the annual Montgomery Rotary Foundation Ball setting a charitable record at the time of $68,000.

He was responsible for organizing the Rotary Interact Club at St. James School. Active in community affairs, he served as Scoutmaster with the Cub Scouts organization sponsored by Cahaba Heights Methodist Church in Birmingham. He served as Director and Vice President of the Salvation Army Advisory Board in Montgomery, Symphony League, Service Corps of Retired Executives Association as Vice Chairman of the board, and served on the board of directors of Camp ASCCA on Lake Martin. Additionally, Colonel Kloess served on the board of the Air Force Judge Advocate School Foundation at Maxwell AFB, serving also as Secretary, and on the board of the Wesley Gardens Retirement Community.

He was also a member of the Krewe of the Phantom Host and of the Blue Gray Colonels Association, and was listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law.

In 1966, while in private law practice in Birmingham, he ran for the Alabama State Legislature for Jefferson County, withdrawing from the run-off election to accept a federal appointment from the late US Senator John Sparkman to the US Department of Veterans Affiars as legal counsel. He retired as chief legal counsel of that federal agency with 30 years of service.

He was elected President of both the Montgomery County Bar and the Montgomery County Federal Bar Associations. He chaired several committees over the years with the above organizations and also of the Alabama State Bar Association. He served as Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board of "The Alabama Lawyer", the official state bar publication. He created "The Docket" publication for the local Montgomery County Bar, serving as its editor for many years. This publication was the major contributing source for receiving the American Bar Association's Award of Merit at its annual convention in Hawaii in 1980.

While active in the local bar, he organized the first comprehensive Law Day observance in 1975 for the Montgomery County Bar Association, which provided student tours of all local, federal, and military courts which included trials of actual cases. The late US Senator Barry Goldwater was the inaugural banquet guest at the Law Day event. The American Bar Association cited the programs, which extended a week, as one of the outstanding Law Day programs in America.

He was also Law Day Chairman of the Alabama State Bar the following year. He later chaired the Citizenship Education Committee of the Alabama State Bar which provided Law Focused Education programs which later was adopted by the State Department of Education and integrated into the public school system in the State of Alabama. In 2006, he received a 50 year membership award from the Alabama State Bar. Kloess also served on the executive committee to amend the Judicial Article to the Alabama Constitution which provided a reunified Judicial Court System for the State of Alabama. In 2015, Kloess received the Montgomery County Bar's Award for Lifetime Service and Achievement.

Colonel Kloess was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Air Force Retired Judge Advocates Association, the Military Officers Association of America, and the Kentucky Colonels Association. He served on the Wynlakes HOA Board of Directors for three years, including when transitional control took effect between Jim Wilson Associates and the HOA.

He enjoyed music and served as an associate member of the Auburn Knights Orchestra. He was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity and remained very active at the fraternity's Alpha Phi Chapter at the University of Alabama. He most recently received the "Theta Chi for Life" Award from the fraternity's national Grand Chapter. He was a member of Frazer United Methodist Church where he served on the Administrative Board over the years. Raised in the Episcopal Church, he prided himself as having sung in the choir as a young boy at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Mamaroneck, New York as a young boy with the noted artist, Norman Rockwell. He was re-baptized in the Jordan River during a trip as an adult to Israel and the Middle East.

Colonel Kloess' celebration of life will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Frazer Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. A visitation will be held at the Church beginning at 11:30 am. Burial will follow the service at Greenwood Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Harry Nelson, Kim Lewis, Charles Alford, Bill Allison, George Landry, and Colonel Kloess' 5 grandsons: Larry Kloess, IV, Jason Kloess, Brandon Kloess, Matthew Kloess, and James Kloess.

Family suggests that memorials be made to the following organizations: the Big Oak Ranch, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the Foundry in Birmingham, the Humane Society of Montgomery, the Men of Valor prison ministry in Nashville, TN, or the charity of your choice.