Former Belleville alderman dies at 83

News-DemocratMay 22, 2013 

A man who dedicated most of his life to serving Belleville, especially the children of the Franklin Neighbhorhood and schools in Belleville, has died.

Paul Klingler, 83, died Monday at Memorial Hospital.

"He meant so much to the city Belleville," said Patricia Beshears, Klingler's daughter. "He'd been involved in so many things in Belleville and wanted to make sure all the kids in Belleville were taken care of. Belleville was his passion."

Klingler served for 28 years as a Ward 2 alderman and had been re-elected as a Belleville Township Trustee in April.

"I've known Paul Klingler most of my life. He's been an outstanding friend and he did a tremendous amount of work with kids," said Mayor Mark Eckert. "He was a guy who knew an awful lot about Belleville.

"When he got into something he was very much involved. He was very much involved in re-doing the fountain, he was very much involved in the 175th anniversary of the city. When Paul took on a job, he did it right and he gave it his full attention."

Klingler was a member of the St. Clair County Building Commission, the Southside Improvement Association, and the American Legion; he was active in Belleville School District 118. He retired from the City Council in 1995 at age 65 so he could spend more time improving the Franklin Neighborhood for children.

A retired carpenter, Klingler donated his knowledge and skill to convert a home at 308 N. Second St. to serve as an office and education center for the Franklin Neighborhood Community Association. The building was donated to the neighborhood by Magna Bank.

"We totally rehabbed that house from top to bottom," Eckert said. "When we had the very first AmeriCorps program in Belleville, kids interested in trades were assigned to him and he taught them carpenter skills.

"We took kids from the court system who were on community service and Paul would work with them on projects in the Franklin Neighborhood. A lot of people don't realize how much volunteering he did in the Franklin Neighborhood."

He later renovated another building in the neighborhood to be used by the community. He built a ramp at Douglas School so a student with cancer could go to school.

"He volunteered at a lot of school when they needed something done," Beshears said. "He was always there to help them."

Klingler was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in World War II and the Korean War.

"He was a decent man," Beshears said. "He didn't sugarcoat anything. He just wanted everything to be done for the best of the city. Belleville has just lost a wonderful man. The whole family has, and he will be greatly missed by many people."

Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday at George Renner and Sons Funeral Home in Belleville.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at the funeral home with burial following at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville.

Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at jschaaf@bnd.com or 618-239-2667.

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