FREELAND, Mich. -- Bill Klenk ('59), former Alma student-athlete, coach, athletic director, and educator, passed away on August 1st at the age of 83.
Klenk was a seven-time letterwinner and a three-sport athlete at Alma, earning letters in football, basketball and baseball. His 88-yard punt as a junior still stands as the second longest in MIAA history. In 1958, Klenk was the All-MIAA quarterback and earned All-NAIA, Honorable Mention All-American and MVP honors for football. He was inducted into the Alma College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975 for his achievements as a student-athlete.
Klenk returned to Alma as a coach in a variety of sports. At the helm of the baseball program (1972-96), he made a mark of 283-288-2, while leading the Scots to seven MIAA Championship titles (1973, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1987). In his 25 years as the head baseball coach, Klenk's teams finished below third place only four times and were below the .500 mark in conference games only twice. His MIAA record was 198-117. The current Alma College baseball facility, Klenk Park, was built with Klenk's contribution and support. Play at Klenk Park began in 1999, followed by a dedication in May 2000.
Klenk also coached for both the men's (1967-78) and the women's (1985-1987) basketball squads. The men's basketball team went 122-94 under Klenk's leadership, including a victory in the MIAA Championships for the 1977-78 season. The women's basketball squad made a 44-8 mark, winning both MIAA Championship titles (1986 and 1987). The Alma women went undefeated (12-0) in league games in 1986.
In 2015, Klenk was once again inducted into the Alma College Athletic Hall of Fame for his coaching successes.
"I had the honor of working with Coach Klenk during my time at Alma College and have since called him my friend," MIAA commissioner Penny Allen-Cook stated. "His gruff exterior was only a facade to the true heart and love he had for his student-athletes and co-workers. He left his mark on Alma as much after he retired as he did while coaching. He was an incredible ambassador of both Alma College and the MIAA. His e-mails and calls to talk about the history of the MIAA will be missed."
Klenk served as Director of Athletics at Alma at times during his career. He was also an assistant football coach and taught Physical Education classes.
Klenk lived in The Villages, Fla., at the time of his death. His children are planning a memorial event in conjunction with the June 2021 Klenk Open.