Served with Honor - United States Military Veteran
Charles Merlin Klingman
August 14, 1933 - July 04, 2016
Volga, Iowa

Visitation: 4 to 7 pm July 08, 2016 at Leonard Funeral Home - Elkader and one hour before services at the church on Saturday
Funeral Service: 11:00 am July 09, 2016 at St. Paul Lutheran Church - Volga, Iowa
Interment: July 09, 2016 at Taylorsville Cemetery - rural Arlington, Iowa

Charles Merlin Klingman, 82, of Elkader, passed away suddenly Monday, July 4, 2016, at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa. Merlin was born on August 14, 1933, to Ray and Mabel (Erickson) Klingman in Elgin, Iowa.

From a one-room school house to the moon, all things were possible for Merlin Klingman. He dreamed big and accomplished big things.

Merlin graduated from Volga High School in 1949, at the age of 16. He then went to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and from there he attended DeVry Technical School and graduated May 3, 1953. Five days later, Merlin was drafted by his friends and neighbors into the United States Army. As a licensed radio engineer, he was assigned to the Armyís first Tactical TV Unit, Pictorial Signal, stationed in Queens, New York. At a Lutheran USO, he met the love of his life, Caroline Julia Dethlefsen. The Iowa farm boy and the New York City girl were united in marriage on February 6, 1955, at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Bronx, New York, by Pastor Robert C. Haupt.

A Korean War veteran, Merlin served his country honorably and was discharged in May, 1955. He then went to work for Bell Telephone Laboratories as a technical assistant in the Military Components department. Their daughter Carrine Rae was born in November of 1955. Merlin rode to work with seven Labs engineers in a jointly-owned Packard limousine. This whole crew worked in electronic switching, and encouraged Merlin to get an engineering degree. He returned to Iowa in 1956 with scholarships on the GI Bill, and obtained his Bachelorís degree in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University in May of 1959, with honors. The summers were spent back in the Bronx with Carolineís parents, working for Bell Labs. After graduation, he returned to Bell Labs and was instrumental in developing the first telephone electronic-switching system.

Merlin earned his Masterís degree in Electrical Engineering from New York University in 1961. Then opportunity called, and in 1962 Merlin transferred to Bellcom in Washington, DC to work on Project Apollo. As part of the mission to land a man on the moon, NASA subcontracted the mission design to Bellcom, a Bell System company formed specifically to work with NASA with every aspect of the Apollo journey, from the intricacies of launching the vehicles from Earth to the stuff of which the moon is made. Merlin worked with the group that did systems planning, program planning and launch planning, including the launch of the lunar excursion vehicle from the surface of the moon. One of Merlinís projects was that of anticipating interface problems among the different computers; these computers had to work seamlessly together, as human lives depended on their collective infallibility. Merlin made frequent trips on the red-eye to Mission Control in Houston as well as to the West Coast NASA space center.

Life went on and second daughter Cristi Lee was born in 1964. In 1969, the Apollo mission was completed as man walked on the moon. Merlin then partnered to form International Computing Company, where he designed software for various companies. Projects included designing the system for the Red Phone -- used to connect the hotline between the White House and Moscow.

In 1975 adventure called, and the family moved to Rome, Italy. Merlin was the only American to work for Italcable, the Italian Telecommunications Company. His job was to train their young engineers in telecommunications design as well as securing contracts from other telecommunications companies around the world. After leaving Italcable in 1979, the family returned to live in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Merlin continued globetrotting, to work with some of the top international telecommunications companies in the world. In 1999, at age 66, Merlin retired with Caroline to their home, The Castle, in rural Elkader, Iowa.

Merlin enjoyed woodworking, fishing on the Mississippi River, spending time with his grandchildren, and helping children and grandchildren with household projects. Caroline and Merlin continued to travel around the world and took their camper all over the United States from Alaska to Texas, up and down the West Coast attending Cal-Berkeley volleyball games to watch their granddaughter play. They were the Team Grandparents.

Games were a passion; whether on the ball field, the card table or the golf course, Merlin always changed the rules so that it could be fair for everyone involved. He encouraged both his children and grandchildren to dream bigÖ anything was possible.

Merlin is survived by his wife Caroline, of Elkader, Iowa; two children, Carrine (John) Reilly of Plano, Texas and Cristi Lee Klingman of Plano, Texas and two grandchildren, Myles Keenan (Jillian) Reilly of Frisco, Texas and Kathleen Sheridan (Ryan) Vaughan of Houston, Texas.

Merlin was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Mabel (Erickson) Klingman; twin sons in infancy, Mark and John Klingman; three siblings, Leona Louise Longmuir, LeRoy Klingman and Corrine Roys and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Carl and Caroline Dethlefsen.

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