Walt ‘Butch’ Klinker

Walt Klinker began life in the Gunnison Valley with his parents Leo and Ruth Klinker and brothers Leo and Eddie ranching up on Mill Creek. Butch, as known by his nickname, was a stand out athlete at Gunnison High school. Klinker helped lead the Cowboy’s football team to the state championships in 1956. Walt played most sports at Gunnison High including wrestling and track. Football would be Butch’s ticket to college. Walt often commented that playing sports and the coaches in Gunnison forever changed his life. College recruiters came knocking on his door. In the book by Fred Casotti; “Football CU – Style,” shares of Walt showing up with a small suitcase and two sets of clothes and nothing else but courage. The University of Colorado became his playing field, Folsom Field. As a CU Buffalo he earned All-American honors and was named best two way center in the history of CU football. Walt was the starting center in the 1962 Orange Bowl, in attendance at the game was President John F. Kennedy and the First Lady. Klinker treasured his game ball despite the buffs losing to LSU in the championship game. The Denver Broncos wanted Klinker and he signed to play pro ball with the Broncos. Klinker had a calling and that was “Coach Klinker.” He wanted to be a coach instead of the NFL and spent the next 45 years inspiring and motivating college players that became his memorable hallmark. He was a tough cowboy and knew how to translate that grit into playing football. Coach Klinker’s life long coaching career began with alma mater CU in 1963 followed by offensive line and coordinator positions at Claremont College, University of New Mexico, Fresno State, University of Wyoming, University of Northern Iowa, University of Hawaii, University of Kansas, and Missouri State. Klinker’s attitude made him a coaching legend, competitive, determined, play harder leading by the power of example for so many college players. No one could do the “X’S and O’s” or call the plays like the detail oriented Klinker still coaching at 70. Coach Klinker’s happiest work was a decade at University of Northern Iowa. His wife Linda enjoyed the coaching experience with Walt when he coached at University of Hawaii. Klinker was multi talented and excelled in all sports whatever endeavor or hobby it be golf, handball, fly fishing, diving, rodeo and a great country western dancer. Since retiring Klinker helped a non profit recycling program in Lawrence, Kan. He loved a good western movie and his chihuahua terrier mix dog Rowdy and cat Daisy. Walt fought a valiant battle against cancer this past year. Walt Klinker finished a champion from Gunnison, Colo. Walt is survived by wife Linda of Lawrence, Kan. Brother, Leo and sister-in-law Judy Klinker from Gunnison residing in Montrose, Colo. Nieces; Denise Mayfield, Lori Kensey and Cindy Jenkins of Gunnison. Walt’s three children live on the family ranch near Boulder, daughters Heather and Holly and son Kyle. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, 3-6 p.m., located near CU campus. The Millennium Harvest House - Cedars Lounge, 1345 28th Street Boulder, Colo 80302.

Gunnison Country Times

218 N. Wisconsin Street
Gunnison, CO 81230
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