BELOIT - In 2016 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Klobucar Construction, founder Ferd Klobucar noted the iconic company - which built some of Beloit's most recognizable buildings - was founded on Sept. 15, the same date as his wedding anniversary.
Ferd and his wife, Barbara, were the center of each other's lives, along with a large family that included eight children. And as they had shared life together through 68 years of marriage, so they shared death as well, with Barbara passing away on Nov. 1 and Ferd on Nov. 3. A joint service is scheduled today at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church.
In a business sense, the Klobucars will be remembered as the foundation of a company that literally built up Beloit, contributing to the architecture of the area. Klobucar Construction is responsible for buildings such as Beloit City Hall, Regal Beloit's World Headquarters, Beloit College's Logan Museum and the Sanger Science Center, Todd Elementary School, the Beloit Health System Cancer Care Center and the NorthPointe Ambulatory Surgery Center.
From a family standpoint, they are remembered "as a team in everything they did," son Jerry Klobucar, president of Klobucar Construction, told the Beloit Daily News. "My mom managed everything related to the kids, paid the bills, shopped, cooked, did the laundry, and still had time to volunteer for every school function. ... She did everything so dad could focus on building the business. He worked 70-80 hour weeks during much of the first 10 years of the business."
He said the Klobucar family has been touched deeply by the outpouring of sentiment since the passing of Ferd and Barbara Klobucar.
"These past days we've had hundreds of phone calls, emails and cards from friends expressing their condolences to our family. Several times we received notes talking about what made Ferd and Barb special to them," he said. "Overwhelmingly the theme has been about family. Mom and dad lived their lives with integrity and such tremendous drive, and did it all for their family. They kept their priorities and values constant no matter what life dealt them."
He said faith and patriotism were important to his parents. Ferd Klobucar was a veteran, who his son said always teared up at every Independence Day parade and at every rendition of God Bless America.
"They never stopped reminding us to not lose touch with our faith, because some day you will feel the need to be close with God," he said. "We were reminded of that this week.
"It isn't at all ironic or surprising that they left this world together," Jerry Klobucar said. "They did everything together throughout their entire marriage."
Noting humor played an important role in his parents' lives, he said, "God is probably doing back flips in giddy anticipation of these two arriving in heaven. Mom is probably organizing a big party to celebrate a reunion with the Mansfields, Dabsons, Spees, Gene Dencker and the rest of their wonderful friends. Dad will be asking where he can find the bait shop."
Gene Wright, interim administrator and fire chief for the Town of Beloit, said Klobucar Construction recently remodeled Fire Station No. 2, at 1143 E. Inman Parkway. The 2018 renovations involved a full indoor remodel including roof maintenance, installing new doors and replacing the heating and cooling systems.
Wright said he has had personal interactions with the Klobucar family. Wright added he coaches some of Ferd and Barbara Klobucar's grandchildren in baseball. He said over the years the family has developed a strong local legacy while making Beloit a better place to live and work.
"Everything I've seen of them, they were very community-oriented," Wright said.
Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett said the Klobucar family has shown support for the system over the years and has contributed to its success.
"We are saddened by the loss of Mr. and Mrs. Klobucar," McKevett said. "The Klobucar Construction firm, under Ferd's leadership and later under Jerry (Klobucar's), has touched so many lives and they have given us a quality environment to be able to maintain the excellence in health care that our community deserves."
Frank McKearn, president of R.H. Batterman and Company, said he went to high school with Jerry Klobucar and has worked on some projects with Klobucar Construction, such as Regal Beloit and various projects in the City of Beloit's Gateway.
"Beloit has been blessed with many big families - theirs is one of them," McKearn said.
Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther called the Klobucars "true community leaders."
"Ferd and Barbara Klobucar's legacy can be seen throughout the Beloit community with the construction of many iconic buildings, including our very own City Hall," Luther said. "The Klobucars remained committed to the success of Beloit. The City of Beloit is grateful for their impact on the city. We send our sincerest condolences to the Klobucar family and friends on the loss of these two beloved residents."
Bill Flanagan, longtime dean of students at Beloit College, said the Klobucars have contributed a great deal to the college and the community.
"The Klobucar family have been incredible partners with the college, from their support of our Habitat for Humanity project to their critical role in a number of major construction and renovation projects on campus to the graduation of their grandson Jack last spring," Flanagan said. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ferd and Barb but so appreciate what they and their family have done for the college over the years. Our hearts go out to the entire Klobucar family during this difficult time."
Daily News staff members Austin Montgomery, Brad Allen, Clint Wolf and Bill Barth contributed to this story.