Carl H. Klaus

Carl H. Klaus died on February 1, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa.

(The following was provided by the Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, Iowa City on February 6, 2022)

Carl Hanna Klaus

Carl Hanna Klaus passed away peacefully on February 1, 2022, in Iowa City, IA, at the age of 89, with his late love, Jackie Blank, as close to his side as Covid restrictions would permit.

Born in Cleveland in 1932 to Max and Caroline (Epstein) Klaus, and orphaned at an early age, Carl was two when his father died during surgery, and six when his mother died of breast cancer. He and his older brother, Marshall, were raised by two of their uncles. In 1953, he married Meredith McSweeny, and they had three children before divorcing in 1964. In 1967 he married Kate Franks, a poet and playwright, who passed away in 2001. Together they restored their home at 416 Reno Street, which Carl has donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In a family of many MDs (including his father and brother), Carl seemed destined to become one himself-after he decided that being a rabbi was not a good fit. That destiny lasted until he failed a sophomore chemistry course. Instead he became a doctor of English, receiving his PhD from Cornell University after earning his BA and MA at the University of Michigan.

Carl was first and foremost a teacher. His first position, from 1959 to 1964, was at Bowdoin College in Maine. Thereafter he was with the English Department at the University of Iowa. At Iowa he is best known as the spiritual and intellectual force behind its Nonfiction Writing Program. “Do you know how lucky, how privileged we are,” one former student remembers him saying, “to be in this room this morning talking about the essay?”

During his last years of teaching and through retirement Carl settled into writing a series of books, eight overall, beginning with My Vegetable Love (1996) and ending just last year with The Ninth Decade, an Octogenarians Chronicle, all published by the University of Iowa Press.

In addition to teaching and writing, Carl’s loves were organic gardening, cooking, and travel. With his first wife, Kate, it was often to Kauai where they volunteered in habitat restoration. With Jackie it was to numerous places, especially quiet cabins along the north shore of Lake Superior in the fall. At his death, he and Jackie were approaching two very happy decades together.

He is survived by his partner, Jackie Blank of Iowa City; his children, Hannah Klaus Hunter (Monty) of Langley, WA, Marshall Frederick Klaus (Ellen) of Haverhill, MA, and Amelia McSweeny of Davis, CA, as well as five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother, Marshall, his first wife, Meredith McSweeny Klaus, and his second wife, Kate Franks Klaus.

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