Bio: Klak, John James (b. 17 Dec 1900)

Contact: Janet Rogalski

----Source: "The History of St. Hedwig's Congregation, Thorp, Wisconsin--Commemorating the Diamond Anniversary 1891-1966;pg. 156-157


John James Klak was born December 17, 1900 in Thorp, Wisconsin, the eighth child of ignacy and Franciszka Tom- kowiak IGak. Ignacy and "Frances" Klak were born in Srem, Poland in 1866 and 1860, respectively, and were Polish Immigrants, Ignacy arriving in Philadelphia in 1882, and Frances Tomkowiak arriving in Baltimore in 1888. They were married in Philadelphia on September 10, 1888. Six years later they learned of a Polish colony being settled in Thorp, Wisconsin and with three children went to Thorp and purchased 80 acres of woods for $250 Northwest of Thorp, constructed their home out of logs, cleared the land and built the necessary farm buildings.

John Klak completed,his preliminary education in Thorp and graduated at the age of 17, second from the top of his class. He participated in athletics and was Secretary of a Scout group, designed and helped to build a cabin in the woods on the farm, and was custodian of the Scout weapon, a 22 caliber rifle. All boys should have a swimming hole, and at the bend of the river near the farm he built a springboard for diving.

In World War I he enlisted in his home town on May 8, 191 8, received training at Dunwoody Naval Training Station at Minneapolis and Harvard Radio School, where he was one of 12 selected from 1 92 trainees, receiving the rating of Radioman Second Class. He chose aviation and was stationed at Pensacola, Florida Naval Air Station and learned to be a Gunner as well as a Radio operator in World War I aircraft, developing aviation radio communication.

Returning from World War I, he entered the University of Wisconsin graduating in 1923 with a Degree of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He was a member of Kappa Beta Lambda Fraternity which later became affiliated with the Delta Sigma Tsu National Fraternity. He trained as a boxer while in college and became Champion in the Featherweight class. After graduation he was employed as Facilities Engineer for the Wisconsin Telephone Company from June, 1923 to May, 1925. From May, 1925 to September 1927 he was a Valuation Engineer with the Bureau of Valuation, Interstate Commerce Commission, evaluating railroad property in the field in connection with the administration of the Act to Regulate Foreign and Domestic Commerce. From September 1927, to October, 1940 he was Supervisor of the Accident Branch, Bureau of Motor Carriers, Interstate Commerce Commission, having jurisdiction over all interstate operations of trucks and busses in 1937 the initial Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were issued and in 1939 he completed the first draft of the First analysis of motor carrier accidents released to the public by the inter- state Commerce Commission. In 1940 he participated in special studies of the relationship between accidents and length of drivers' runs. in 1927 he became active in ttie Naval Reserve Squadron based at Anascostia, D.C., went to the Naval Air Station at Squantum, Mass., birth place of Naval Reserve Aviation, and completed his flight training, earning his wings in 1 928.

He enrolled in the George Washington University Law School Evening Classes, passed the Bar examination in February of 1938 before receiving his LLS degree in June, 1938. He was admitted to the Bar in the District of Columbia, qualifying for work before the Court of Appeals.

In World War 11 he was called to active duty in October, 1940 as a Lieutenant and advanced to the rank of Commander He served as Executive officer of the Naval Reserve Aviation Base at Anacostia, D. C. in the training of aviation cadets. Assigned as Commander of a Task Group in the Hawaiian Sea Frontier in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he later served as a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey in the Naval Test Center, Patuxent, Md. He was also Supervisor of Air Station Maintenance for the Bureau of Aeronautics.

He retired from the Navy in July 1946 and entered the practice of law, became an aviation tariff expert and consultant and legal representative of Air Carriers before the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C. He pioneered in procuring Operation Authorizations for the so-called "Non- scheduled Airlines, " later called Supplemental Airlines.

His religious affiliation was with the Roman Catholic Church. He was a member of the Fourth Degree Assembly, a Past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Past Com- rnander of an American Legion Post and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Past President of the Columbia Forum Club, member of the Touchdown Club, Retired Officer's Association and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. In politics he was a Republican.

He was married in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 1929 to Miss Ruth Catherine Humphrey, daughter of Stephen Douglas and Gertrude Martin Humphrey of Hannibal, Missouri, and had two daughters, Norma, who married Robert Bruce Drake, and Sibyl, who married Paul David Fisher.

In 1959 he and &. Theodore P. Gerth formed the partner-ship of Klak and Gerth, Attorneys-at-Law, which continued until the close of his life. He died on October 1, 1966; in Bethesda, Maryland where he had lived for thirty-one years.

(Note - The following was sent as corrections to the above biography by Dennis Ronek)

Some slight corrections. John's father, Ignatz Stephan Klak was born 7/22/1865 in Srem, Poland, whereas "Frances" was born 3/1/1870 in Sroda, Poland.


Re: Bio: Klak, John James (b. 17 Dec 1900)

Contact: Carole Klak Ronek

Death Certificate for Ignatz Klak indicates he was born 7/22/1865. Also, the Death Certificate for Frances Klak indicates she was born 3/1/1870.



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