There are many words and phrases that describe Bob Klem, but his own perhaps serve this purpose the best:
Bob was born June 2, 1955; he, unfortunately, left us on February 18, 2018, playing his second favorite pastime – Ice Hockey.
His first passion, other than his family, was his trailblazing, nationally recognized crusade against pancreatic cancer after the disease killed his wife, Becky, in 1999.
The following excerpt comes from the KC Star's obituary article written by Joe Robertson (Link)
Becky Klem's death hit her family hard — her husband, Bob, their daughters, Rachel and Sarah, and Bob's son from a previous relationship, Jody Hale, his son said. Nothing alerted them that Becky had pancreatic cancer until it was too late. There are still no reliable tests to provide early warning of pancreatic cancer, and that angered Klem then and until the end. They wanted to make sure Becky was remembered and honored, Sarah Klem said. Rachel had the idea that her dad and teammates could start painting the hockey sticks purple for her and the fight against cancer. Then Bob Klem got the idea of having special fundraiser games. Klem, who described himself as a "non-geeky network engineer" at Sprint, had played hockey since he was 6 growing up in Chicago. And he'd played goalie as long as anyone can remember. His love for hockey would be the force that carried him into the cancer fight that rapidly became his new life purpose.
The games were more like get-togethers at first. But, the way Klem did things, he soon had a foundation — Have-a-skate-with-Bob — that would raise an astounding $165,000 and become a model organization for others looking for ways to fight cancer. of his hockey teams.
Everybody wanted to skate with Bob, said former Sprint colleague and teammate Scott Patterson of Fairway. "He had such a big personality," he said. "The way he laughed. And his colorful language." Soon the professional minor league hockey teams in the region were teaming up with him, collaborating in events. The Kansas City Mavericks, who play in Silverstein, helped draw more participants, as did the Rockford, Ill., IceHogs, and others. The arena owners donated the time on the ice and the skaters' fees, and sponsor support went to the foundation, which sent the thousands of dollars it raised to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Klem's playful spirit dominated the games. Participants often filled out purple-trimmed signs naming a loved cancer victim or survivor they were fighting for. Some signs used the hockey jargon referring to classic hockey player fights seen on television that always start with the combatants throwing down their gloves. "I drop my gloves for —" In a promotional video at a 2016 fundraiser game at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill., Klem holds up a sign saying he drops his gloves for "Becky"… several other names … "and you."
His favorite Twitter hashtags: #dropYOURgloves and #puckcancer. It's going to be hard to play on without Klemmer, Patterson said. But he and so many others joined in Klem's events know the kind of spirit Klem would want them to carry forward.
Patterson remembers a moment he shared with Klem on the goalie's 60th birthday.
"I told him he proved the theory that if you are selfless and do things to help others, it makes you happier," he said.
"He wasn't a doctor or a researcher, but he had a passion and knowledge he knew could help people."
"He always listened," Sarah Klem said. "He was always strong in his beliefs." Think about the kind of person who would want to be a goalie, Hale, his son, said. "It takes a special person to be in the crease, pucks flying at you from any direction at any time," Hale said. "You're being the protector."
Klem would want everyone who was with him in his fight to power on the way the Klems did after struggling past Becky Klem's death, Hale said. "Why let it end this way?" Hale said, remembering his father's growing resolve. "Why let this be the story?" Instead, Hale said, Klem looked for a path "to do the next thing, the next step, to not hold back." These are the reasons tributes flow. This is why the hockey and cancer-fighting community wanted — and probably needed — to make an arena available to honor him in death. He was determined to help as many people as he could. And for a goalie, those were his best saves of all.
Posted February 24, 2018 – KC Star
The following excerpt comes from Bob's Facebook Page
While I am thankful for my day job as a non-geeky network engineer, it is my second job that gives me true satisfaction and inner peace. Eight years ago, Rachel said we needed to do something to honor Mom, and I put purple tape on my goal sticks. I also promised to cut my hair if our fundraising goal was met after my director said it would help the fundraising. I googled pancreatic cancer and found out about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. They have been the beneficiary of our efforts since day 1. The next year, my Captain, Joe Lynch, said, "Bobby, you should have a benefit game," and two traditions were born – our games and letting the players decide what direction we would go. For years ago, our friend Tom Jacobson defeatured his PC, and Chris Zion asked if we would hold a game in Rockford. Since then, we've added games with the Rockford IceHogs and the Missouri Mavericks professional hockey clubs to our events. Three years ago, we added the Winter Classic, an outdoor game on New Year's Day in KC. This year, we sold tickets to an NHL exhibition game in KC and dyed my hair purple, both ideas from friends and co-workers. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I will write a check that will push donations over the 8 years past the $100K mark. It truly humbles me to know that I am blessed beyond compare in leading such a wonderful group of people – our players, fans, friends, and sponsors. You guys inspire me and give me the ideas that make our events so much fun to play in. I cannot begin to express my love and gratitude to you. In the words of Willie Nelson, we're on the road again.
Thank you all, and see you in Rock Vegas.
Posted November 20, 2014, on Bob's Facebook Page (Link)
Bob Suiting Up for Photo Shoot with KC Mavericks. 4 years ago - I think Simon posted about it on Klem's page. As the story goes, the Mavs were shooting promo pictures and needed someone to stand in as their goalie. Simon called Klemmer and said, "Klem, we need a goalie for pics. You got your gear?" Klem answered, "Of course." Simon said, "Can you get out to the arena in 15 minutes?"