NWU Remembers Professor Emeritus & State Poet Bill Kloefkorn

Former professor and Nebraska State Poet William "Bill" Kloefkorn died May 19, 2011 at his home in Lincoln. He was 78.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, May 25 at 2:30 p.m. in O'Donnell Auditorium in the Rogers Center for Fine Arts on the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus. A reception will follow in the dining hall located in the Story Student Center.

Viewings will be held Tuesday, May 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home at 6800 South 14th Street, and on Wednesday, May 25 from noon to 2 p.. in Old Main on the NWU campus.

Kloefkorn was born August 12, 1932 in Attica, Kan., to Katie Marie and Ralph Kloefkorn. He graduated from Attica High School. He married his high school sweetheart Eloise Ann on January 25, 1953. He served in the United States Marine Corps and attended and graduated from Emporia State Teachers College in Emporia, Kan. He and Eloise moved to Lincoln in 1962, where he taught writing and literature at Nebraska Wesleyan University until his retirement in 2002. He has published more than 30 collections of poetry, two collections of short fiction, four memoirs and an assortment of children's Christmas stories.

Kloefkorn initiated Nebraska's Poets-in-the-Schools program in the early 1970s talking and writing with hundreds of young students throughout the state. He was named the Nebraska State Poet by proclamation of the Nebraska Unicameral in the fall of 1982. He fulfilled his commitment as State Poet from the sandhills to the suburbs with countless readings, seminars, and workshops; teaching, inspiring and entertaining thousands of Nebraskans across the state. He was also one of the founding fathers of the Loup River Expeditionary Force (LREF) where he served as Captain and as a member of the Council of Elders.

Survivors include: wife, Eloise; daughters, Terry Hansen of Lincoln, Tracy Vuchetich of Overland Park, Kan.; sons, John Kloefkorn and Robert Kloefkorn of Lincoln; 11 grandchildren; and two great grandsons.

The family wishes, in lieu of flowers, that memorials be sent to one of the following: Nebraska Wesleyan William C. Kloefkorn Endowed Fund; Kloefkorn Elementary School Endowment; Nebraska Public Radio.


I assume this is meant for Bill. I just read in the Omaha World Herald, on the editorial page. a letter by John Morrissey that Bill had died. His tribute was right on.

Josie and I travelled with Bill and the Lewis and Clark explorers From Hastings College two times. When we left Hastings on the bus I wondered who the white haired gentleman was sitting up front with his note pad. On the second night Bill got up to read his poetry. from the days journey.
But of course, he had to tell a few stories, jokes whatever. I know I embarrasssed Josie by about falling out of my chair while Bill went on about wienie skewers.

On these trips with Will, Gilbert and Rich I had probably the best times of my life. All wonderful people and Bill was right at the top. I even got a tear when I saw the letter in the paper.

In the short time I knew Bill he affected my life immensely. I have thought of him many times and just read Alvin Turner again.

My sympathies to you all, Bill was a great person and this old place a better place for his being here.

When Bill told some of his stories, I can see Eloise just smiling.. That's my Bill.

Bob and Josie Clark Audubon Ia.

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Bill Kloefkorn taught writing and literature at NWU from 1962 until his retirement in 2002.
Kloefkorn died May 19. Services will be held at NWU on May 25 at 2:30 p.m.