On Wednesday, April 3rd 2019, Gary Klecha, beloved husband, father, son, and brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 60 years.
Gary is survived by, and will be forever remembered by his loving wife of 32 years Cathy, his two adoring daughters Valerie and Holly, his father Frank, his sister Maryann, brother-in-law Bob and nieces and nephew Christine, Erica and Matthew, his brother Kevin, sister-in-law Maria and niece Sophia. Gary was pre-deceased by his mother Terry in 1975, and we pray she has welcomed him home with open arms and open heart.
Gary was a resident of Pequannock Township for most of his life and graduated from Pequannock Township High School with the class of 1976. While he was in high school, Gary was a standout football player and record-setting track and field athlete. He was a member of Pequannock’s first undefeated football team in 1973, a team that was inducted into the Golden Panther Hall of Fame in 2016. During his senior track season, Gary set school records in the 330-yard intermediate hurdles and the mile-relay. His records still stand today.
After high school, Gary became a football and track and field coach at PTHS, while pursuing a college education at Upsala College in East Orange, and working at his family’s business, Klecha’s Tavern in Garfield. He loved people and he loved to coach. After several years of coaching high school sports, Gary made the jump to collegiate coaching, becoming a football and track and field coach at William Paterson University in Wayne. Throughout his coaching career, “Coach Klech” touched the lives of so many young athletes, and he loved helping each of them achieve their greatest potential.
It was at this time he married Catherine Molinari on April 12th, 1986. Gary and Cathy had two beautiful daughters, Valerie and Holly, who he utterly adored. As the girls were growing up, Gary committed himself to coaching them in all of their endeavors - from swimming, to track and field, to band, to field hockey. And as they grew, he absolutely glowed when they played hockey. He traveled across the country to watch them play…and to always be their coach; in athletics and in life.
He loved to ski, whether on water or snow. He took pride in his boat, and he was an avid fisherman. He cherished the time and the fun he shared with his family when they were at the lake. He had a fondness for fine cigars, and especially enjoyed them when his Kansas City Chiefs were winning. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle, and participated in many rides with many dear friends. He loved telling a good joke, and he seemed to have an endless supply of them. When Gary was with a group of people, his presence filled the room, as did his laughter. Gary’s presence, and his laughter will be sorely missed.
Gary was quick to smile, eager to make others laugh, and no matter what obstacles he might have run into, he always seemed to know how to make things work.
A Time of Remembrance for Gary will be held on Thursday May 9th, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 155 West Parkway, Pompton Plains. A Memorial Mass will take place the following morning, Friday May 10th, at 10:00 AM, also at Good Counsel Church. All are welcome to attend.
In lieu of flowers, those who so desire may make a Memorial Donation in Gary’s name to the American Heart Association by visiting their website, www.heart.org.