Robert William Klamm
March 11, 1930 to July 10, 2014
There are two sayings that were important themes in the life of Robert W. ("Bob") Klamm. First, there are none so sad as those who cannot laugh at themselves. Second, those with sight look into things with their eyes, while those who are blind must look deeper. Bob has been laughing at himself, and looking deeper than most, for the past 84 years.
Bob was born nearly blind March 11, 1930 in Kansas City, Kansas, one of two children born to Beulah and Clarence Klamm. He grew up within walking distance of Klamm Park, Kansas City, Kansas, a city park established on land donated by his grandfather, George Klamm. No one knew he was nearly blind, not even himself, until he was eight years old. He just learned to laugh at himself and made jokes about his bumbling ways. He tells the whole story in his humorous and inspirational memoir, Fly Like a Bumblebee. The book received awards for both youth and adult non-fiction, was recorded by the Library of Congress Talking Books and published in Braille, and was also produced as a stage play version.
In second grade, Bob received a pair of eyeglasses thick as Coke bottle bottoms - so heavy that he quite often quipped, "It was like the bottles were still attached."
Despite his handicap, Bob developed a keen interest in performing magic tricks. While a student at Northwest Junior High School (Kansas City, Kansas), he did his first big magic show for a student body of 500. The show was immensely successful and Bob was finally no longer an outcast. He was hooked on magic and has been performing ever since.
Bob graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1948. He attended Kansas City Kansas Jr. College and graduated with honors from Northwestern University in 1952, having earned a Bachelor's degree in drama, radio and TV.
At the age of 22 he returned to Kansas City, where he found a job writing advertising copy for Standart-O'Hern Advertising Agency. While working there in the early 1950's, he pioneered the comedy radio commercial, years before the Smothers Brothers, Garrison Keeler and others latched onto the idea. Some of Bob's original comedy radio writings are still available, now preserved on CD.
After gaining a Master's degree in Education from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1959, Bob worked as a speech and drama teacher for 19 years at Van Horn High School (Independence, MO). He touched the lives of many students, and became a leader in demonstrating that high schools could successfully produce the best professionally-written Broadway comedies, dramas, and Shakespearian classics.
In 1976 Bob returned to his first love - performing magic - and also opened a magic shop in Independence. For the next 40 years, Bob worked tirelessly at his trade, and established himself as an international figure. He founded the Greater Kansas City Assembly #38 local chapter of the International Society of American Magicians (SAM), and the official title of this local chapter was named after him (the "Robert W. Klamm ring"). He also started a Kansas City assembly of the Society of Young Magicians (SYM), and produced their annual magic show for 17 years. Bob developed a product line of his own magic tricks, including many new effects that performing magicians now consider industry standards.
Bob was a prolific writer as well as performer and teacher. He authored several books, including:
How To Out-Fox The Kids for Fun and Profit, a collection of "Pearls from the Klamm," little stories, fables, fractured fairy tales and sometimes humorous parables- gems of wisdom "to help you with your little gems of joy."
Get More Laughs from Your Laughs, a guide to how to create humor (bears the Editor's Choice and Reader's Choice awards from the publisher).
Late in life, Bob also became an accomplished harmonica player. He regularly performed at Mount Washington United Methodist Church. As one of his last creative projects in this world, he recorded a CD of classic hymns entitled "Gospel Klamm-monica" (2012), accompanied and engineered by his son, Scott.
Bob leaves behind his loving wife of many years, Berniece; sons, Dale (Smithville) and Scott (Kansas City); four grand-daughters; sister Doris Stoneberger (Kansas City, Kansas), nephew Mark Stoneberger, niece Sarah Harris, and a great many grand nieces and nephews who will miss their "Uncle Bob."
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