|Birth: ||Feb. 10, 1917|
|Death: ||Apr. 26, 2009|
Lived in New Lenox for over 30 years. Survived by his loving family; his sons, George (Donna), Christopher (Judy), Danny (Suzie) and Mike Kladis; his daughters, Joanne (James) Davis, Carole (the late Danny) Lockard and Cecelia (Jerry) English, numerous grandchildren; great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Jean (nee Allen); and his parents, George and Mary Kladis.
George was a New Lenox police officer, a member of Landmark Masonic Lodge #422, he was the oldest living starter of the Indy 500 and the last living driver of the 1946 race. He was Andy Granatalli's "Rookie Driver".
Racing into the 1970's, Kladis was the United Auto Racing Association (UARA) driving champion in 1962. Wheeling Bob Lockard's rapid-running Ford Falcon-powered mount, Kladis won at least 11 features racing during the '62 season and defeated former UARA champion Ray Elliott and newcomer Henry Pens in the final standings. During the year, the UARA tour visited a number of Chicago area tracks with weekly Saturday night action taking place at the paved Joliet Memorial Stadium.
With the introduction of short track stock car racing taking place in Chicago in 1948, Kladis won the first-ever 300-lap stock car race at Raceway Park in late October. "Borrowing" a military Jeep from a local recruiting station, Kladis used the Jeep's "four-wheel-drive" option to get the job done.
In addition to his racing career, Kladis also takes credit for "fine tuning" the engines for maverick billionaire and eccentric extraordinaire Howard Hughes' famed "Spruce Goose" wooden airplane. An employee of the Ford Motor Company during the war, Kladis was a supervisor at the Ford plant on Chicago 's southside that built the powerful Pratt and Whitney Wasp R-4360 engines. Eight engines powered Hughes' plane and Kladis claims that Hughes' engineers and, sometimes, Hughes himself, would call him on the assembly line floor with questions about the mammoth engines.
For many years, Kladis was a pilot himself, doing both commercial and charter work, even flying jets for a number of major corporate accounts.
Kladis and his late wife, Mary Jean, raised a family, which included a son, George, who was the 1971 UARA champion.
Arrangements - Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 102 E. Francis Rd., New Lenox, on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 from 3-8 PM and again on Thursday April 30, 2009 from 3-8 PM. Services Friday, May 1, 2009 at 9:15 AM in the funeral home chapel following to at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Joliet for a Funeral Service at 10:00AM.
Mary Jean Allen Kladis (1919 - 1987)
Calumet Park Cemetery
Created by: Diane K
Record added: Apr 28, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36454829
Added by: Anonymous
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Rest In Peace From An Indy Fan!|
John E. Blazier
Added: Jun. 3, 2009
God bless, rest in peace. Say 'hi' to my dad and Tony.|
Added: Apr. 28, 2009