Oct. 26, 1930 – Feb. 22, 2019
Karl F. Kluckhohn was ready to take the next step in his career as a college football coach.
Chief assistant to fabled University of Buffalo gridiron great Dick Offenhamer in the late 1950s, he was part of the effort that earned the Bulls their first-ever post-season bowl invitation – to the Tangerine Bowl in 1958.
But when he asked his boss to provide a reference to help him apply for a head coaching position, Offenhamer said he wanted to keep him at UB, according to Steve Kluckhohn, his son.
He gave up football instead and within a few years became co-publisher of the Hamburg Pennysaver, a free weekly advertising publication.
Mr. Kluckhohn died unexpectedly Feb. 22 in his Williamsville home. He was 88.
Born in Springville, he was a standout athlete at Griffith Institute High School, where he lettered in baseball, football and basketball. He was one of the first two people inducted into the school’s Pop Warner Hall of Fame when it was established in 1973.
He was even more stellar at Colgate University. A letterman in the three major sports for three years and a three-time letterman in track, he set Eastern Intercollegiate Association records in 1951 as an end on the football team by catching 45 passes and gaining 616 yards.
He earned first-team United Press International All-East honors and a Collier’s All-East honorable mention. He was picked to play in the 1951 East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco, in which the East defeated a West team led by quarterback Frank Gifford, 15-14.
He also made his mark at Colgate as a baseball player. In a game at Yale University, he became the first player since Babe Ruth to hit a home run over the center field scoreboard.
He was drafted to play football for the Green Bay Packers, but got a more lucrative offer from local baseball scout Cy Williams to become an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers.
With the Wausau Timberjacks in the Wisconsin State League in 1952, he batted .426. He also played with the Davenport Tigers in the Three I League in 1952 and with Wausau and the Durham Bulls in the Carolina League in 1953.
“He said it was the best summer job he ever had,” his son Steve said, “but he had a run-in with the manager in Durham.”
He and his wife, the former Marilyn Haws, who did modeling for local department stores, had married in September 1952. When their first child arrived the following June, he asked to go home. According to Steve, the manager told him, “If you go home, you’re benched.”
Mr. Kluckhohn then returned to football, landing an assistant coaching position at St. Lawrence University, working with the freshman football, basketball and baseball teams for two years. He was one of Offenhamer’s first hires when he became coach at UB in 1955.
With a third child on the way in 1959, he needed more than an assistant coach’s salary to support his growing family. He decided to accept a job with better pay from Charles P. Leader, a staunch UB supporter who owned Eden Farms Dairy.
Mr. Kluckhohn worked for Eden Farms as a sales manager and general manager until 1963, when he and his brother-in-law, William Haws, bought the Hamburg Pennysaver from Haws’ mother, Lucylle Haws, who founded it in 1939.
It grew to become H & K Publications, with Pennysavers in Blasdell, Lackawanna, Gowanda, Springville, Arcade, Dunkirk-Fredonia, Westfield and other communities. The company bought the Hamburg Sun in 1972 and merged it with the Hamburg Pennysaver. It was sold to his sons in 1996 and was acquired by Metro Group Inc. in 2007.
Mr. Kluckhohn focused his athletic prowess on golf, booming 325- to 350-yard drives en route to winning trophies and local tournaments. He continued golfing until about eight years ago.
He and his wife were active in the Wanakah Country Club, where he served as president. He also was a member of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce.
His wife died in an auto accident in 1976 en route home from skiing in Ellicottville and he was remarried two years later to the former Diane “DeDe” Webster. They moved from Hamburg to Williamsville, where he became a member and director of the Country Club of Buffalo.
In retirement, he lived most of the year in Venice, Fla., where he was a member of the Oaks Club and the Venice Yacht Club. His wife died in October.
Survivors include two other sons, Tom and Chuck; two stepsons, David Laub and Derek Laub; and nine grandchildren.
A celebration of his life will be held March 23 at the Wanakah Country Club.