George Kloppenberg, the founder of the metal fabricating firm Kloppenberg & Company in Sheridan, Colorado, died on May 8, 2004. He died of complications from cancer of the liver. George was born on November 2, 1914, in Hanover, Kansas. He attended Kansas University for two years, earning varsity letters in baseball and attracting the interest of major league teams. Forced to leave KU because of the depression, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked in various sheet metal jobs until he met and married Zona Brindle of Lebanon, Indiana, on April 21, 1941. Two days later they opened their own sheet metal shop.
Soon after his son George F. was born in October of 1942, Kloppenberg was drafted into the army. As a private in the Corps of Engineers, he landed on Anzio, Italy, in January 1944, then cleared land mines and built bridges as the army fought its way up the Rhone River in France and across the Elbe into Germany. On April 6, 1945, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant, pulled from the front lines, and put in charge of building permanent roads and bridges in France. After the war ended, he served in France and Belgium repatriating German prisoners of war.
George and Zona moved to Englewood, Colorado, in 1946. Two years later they restarted their sheet metal business. Kloppenberg & Co. flourished after changing from heating and air conditioning to the fabrication of stainless steel kitchen equipment. The ""shop"", as Kloppenberg always called the family business, moved three times into larger buildings, eventually settling in 1967 at its current location, a 110,000 square foot facility on eleven acres at 2627 West Oxford Avenue in Sheridan. Kloppenberg continued to wear his signature denim bib overalls, and to fix the machinery as well as manage the firm, until he retired in 1992 and turned the business over to his son Joseph.
George was predeceased by his wife Zona on February 24, 2001. He is survived by his sisters Irene Kloppenberg of Santa Cruz, CA; Marie Shore of Los Gatos, CA; his brother Edwin of Goleta, CA; his sons George F., of Glastonbury, CT; Joseph R., of Englewood, CO; James T., of Wellesley, MA; seven grandchildren; and one great grandchild.
George is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery along with
his wife Zona.
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