Marvin Dale Kleinau
Carbondale - Marvin Kleinau passed away November 23, 2021 at Carbondale, Illinois. He was born August 31, 1929, in Geneseo, Henry County, Illinois, to Walter and Sadie (Pobanz) Kleinau. His father was killed in 1930 in an auto accident. His mother raised him and his brother, Elon, sending both to college while working at the Rock Island Arsenal during the war. She was the rock that defined his future.
Marvin often described his memories of Geneseo as idyllic. Growing up in Geneseo he was a natural leader and put together his own softball team that traveled the area. In high school he was involved in all activities, including football, track, golf, debate and individual speech contests. He was a state finals qualifier finishing second in debate and fourth in extemporaneous speaking. He was one of four students selected in their junior year to the National Honor Society and the only boy. He was president of his class and president of the NHS. It was during these years that he met Sparkie Armstrong and Jim Glawe, whose friendship was the key to every aspect of his development. Teachers Holley and McCormick gifted him with time, attention, and a desire to become a teacher.
He attended Illinois State University in Bloomington, Illinois and was active in debate, extemp, and theater. He and his colleague were the first ISU team to qualify for the national championship at West Point, NY, in 1948. There he was "fathered" by Ralph Micken, his mentor and friend.
After graduation from Illinois State University he served two years in the United States Army, assigned to the Intelligence school at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Marvin shared his talents while teaching in Saybrook, Illinois and in his old high school in Geneseo, was by his admission the most enjoyable time of his life. In addition to teaching five different classes per day he coached football, basketball, baseball, track, and directed three plays and a musical each year. In Geneseo he taught speech and history, winning the sectional tournament for the first time in the history of the school. He had state finalists in several events and one state champion. His speech and debate team won the North Central Conference each of the years he was there. In fact some of his best readers were football players. He still communicates with the linebacker that did "Of Mice and Men."
In 1961 he accepted a scholarship to begin his Ph D. studies at Southern Illinois University. In addition he taught for two years at the University High School organizing a speech competition program combined with an existing debate program. Kleinau had his biggest challenge when he was directed to coach students in the University high school at SIU as he began work on his doctorate. He had a state champion his first year, but it was his second year that his ability to mentor students that had never been to a speech contest before took hold. Marvin challenged the talented students to give it a try and after a lot of hard work, the school advanced a student in every event to the state finals and ended up losing the top award by a single point.
It was on March 18, 1962 that he married Marion Lorene Davis, a member of the faculty of the Southern Illinois University Speech Department, in Independence, Missouri. For nearly sixty years, through thick and thin, the marriage blossomed. Marion began at this time to build an outstanding program in performance studies. The current Marion Kleinau Theater is named in her honor. No children were born of the marriage, unless you consider all those earning their doctorates and returning from time to time like family.
In 1963 he was hired as a faculty member in the SIU Department of Speech and made SIU Director of Forensics. A position he held for seven years. They won numerous tournaments and advanced to the national tournament in 1970. He was elected president of Illinois Speech and Theater association in 1969 and over the years received three awards from the association for outstanding teaching and service.
Marvin returned to the class room teaching rhetoric, public address, composition and basic speech. He also became active in the political aspect of the university. He was the first faculty member to be elected president of the Faculty Senate three times. He was awarded the Mobile Outstanding Teaching Award as the result of student evaluations. He was appointed by the Chancellor to chair the Program Evaluation committee and was also appointed by the
Chancellor to chair the North Central Accreditation Team. He was awarded the Board of Trustees Distinguished Service honor in 1993. He chaired the Speech department for ten years and was named the interim dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts in 1989. It was during this period that a lasting friendship was established with Tom and Tommye Pace, Pat and Dick Hunsaker, and Keith and Carol Sanders. Tom was a blessing to Marvin, beyond friendship.
In 1977, he was ordained an Elder in the Community of Christ church. In addition to pastoring the Marion congregation, he was elected to serve as President of the Southeast district, after serving in the district presidency for ten years. He was ordained a High Priest in 1984, and in 1991 he was ordained an Evangelist.
Marvin was the recipient of the Amoco award, as the top SIU undergraduate teacher in 1977. He has written debate books with Dick Hunsaker and nine debate manuals while he directed debate workshops that turned out five future national champions. He served many years in ISTA leadership positions and loved every second.
He was a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs.
When nominated for the 2015 Link Mentorship Award, it was said that Marvin Kleinau never talked to a student, either in his high school teaching years or as a university professor, without personally measuring them up as potential debaters or some kind of speech performer. This constant attention to potential speech students was the result of the way he was treated while in high school. Speech was very big, and speech students were at the top of the students most likely to succeed list, and they proved themselves when they out-pointed big time speech schools like Rock Island and East Moline; finally, Kleinau went back home to coach at Peoria and Galesburg. He always said, "The talent is there, you just have to encourage it to come out of the woodwork."
In the last year of his life, Marvin and Marion endowed scholarships and other educational opportunities to continue being encouragers with the same generous spirit with which they gave to their students and dedicated themselves to their fields of study throughout their respective careers. Marion created the Marion Lorene Kleinau Award at Southern Illinois University-
Carbondale. Marvin endowed scholarships at Illinois State University– The Marvin D. Kleinau Scholarship for Forensics Fund– and at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale–The Marvin Kleinau Speech Fund. They also established the Kleinau Outstanding Teacher Award with the Illinois Communications Association.
As a member of the Carbondale Kiwanis Club, Marvin supported the Club's civic and benevolent fundraising projects and proudly contributed to ensure support for recent renovations at the playground in the Carbondale Park District. He participated in many other civic activities and events, becoming known for his leadership, graciousness, and humor in the "town-gown" connections in Carbondale as a university town. In his philanthropic spirit, Marvin continued to use his God-given gifts to help others throughout his last illness.
Marvin Kleinau's life was one of humble but proud and generous service to others and to a standard of excellence beneficial to the educational process and to societal discourse. Not only did he teach persuasive speaking, but he excelled in pushing his students in rhetoric, critical thinking, and analysis. He commanded respect of those whose lives he touched in his long journey. On November 23, 2021, his booming baritone voice advanced to a new height, waiting for his beloved Marion, who remains to honor his legacy, which is an endowment of compassion and pride, service and integrity, humility and respect, to all whom he taught and mentored and whose lives he touched throughout his rich tenure in life.
His closing statement is the purest summary of Marvin's heart and soul: "I never knew it was going to be like this when I first encountered Santa Claus way back in the 1930's. If I had known all the gifts and good times I would encounter I would have tried to get here earlier. Finally, the Chicago Cubs have sustained me all these years. I am thankful for their resurgence; I TRUST IN MY HONOR.... "M," I love you. See you in the morning."
Services are deferred at this time. For more information contact Rebecca Whittington, 618/549-8599 or Meredith Funeral Home.
Posted online on November 30, 2021
Published in Geneseo Republic