The Obit For Jim Kleckley

James Kleckley Sr.

Published in The State on October 20, 2010

LEXINGTON - James Wade Kleckley Sr. (known as "Jim," "Rube" or "J.W." to friends) was promoted to his heavenly home on Tuesday, October 19, 2010, after a heroic battle with cancer.

Jim was born September 8th, 1926, in New Brookland (now West Columbia). He was the son of the late Reuben Hammond Kleckley and Maude Keisler Kleckley, and was the stepson of the late Genevieve Lindsay Kleckley.

Jim graduated from Brookland-Cayce High School in 1943 where he lettered in baseball, football and basketball. He earned a scholarship to Presbyterian College where he lettered in football and basketball and was honored to play in the historic football game where PC beat Clemson 13-12.

Mr. Kleckley was a student there until he was signed, at the age of 17, by the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. After his first year of pro ball, Jim enlisted in the service and served in the U.S. Navy for 18 months during World War II.

After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he continued his professional baseball career for nine years as a pitcher with the Pittsburg Pirates and Cleveland Indians organizations. His last years of baseball were spent with the Columbia Reds from 1951-1953 and he was a member of their championship winning team in 1952.

After his retirement from baseball, Jim operated service stations in the Columbia area and managed Kleckley's Garage until 2000. During this time, Jim was a former member of the Swansea Hunt Club, Sinclair Lodge #154, American Legion Post 90, and was a 1987 inductee to the BC High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mr. Kleckley also coached throughout his life the Congaree and Cayce American Legion baseball teams and coached the S.C. State Championship Colt League team of 1966. He was also an area scout for the Pittsburg Pirates from 1960-1964.

Jim was instrumental in founding the Lexington County Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was honored for his Christian service in 1993 by being inducted into the S.C. FCA Hall of Faith.

He worked closely with recovering alcoholics, visited local prisons with His House Ministries and managed the 378 Lexington His House thrift store. His work with His House Ministries brought him much joy and fulfillment, and he was later ordained as a minister of the Missionary Church International.

For more than 50 years, Jim was an active member of Brookland United Methodist Church in West Columbia where he was a former UMM district president and lay speaker. He was also an active member of Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington where he enjoyed the Friday Morning Men's Prayer Breakfast.

Jim was a horseshoe champion and loyal Gamecock fan; he loved sports and was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt and fish, and especially enjoyed a good dove shoot with his many hunting buddies. However, it is Jim's love for Jesus and his love for people that family and friends will remember most about him.

Jim is survived by the love of his life and wife of 62 years, Mrs. Judith Shuler Kleckley of Lexington. Together they had three beautiful children; James Wade Kleckley Jr. (Patt) of Lexington, Bryan Stephan Kleckley (Becky) of St. Matthews, and Rhonda Kleckley Gilliam (Jim) of Taylors, SC.

Jim was the proud and doting granddaddy of five grandchildren: Adrianna Kleckley, Stephanie Kleckley, Reuben Kleckley, Jay Gilliam (Bekah), and Luke Gilliam. He is also survived by his loving sister, Mrs. Ruth Kleckley Hoover (Ray), brothers-in-law, A.A. "Bo" Shuler Jr., Beaufort Shuler, Danny Shuler, and sisters-in-law, Mrs. Winnie Shuler, Mrs. Eva Lee Williams, Mrs. Cherry Blanton, Mrs. Linda Jacobs, and many nieces, nephews and his dear cousins. "Rube" is also survived by his "best baseball buddy"Mr. Lenny Yochim (Dottie) of New Orleans, LA.

Of all of Jim's many accomplishments - his family and the legacy of love he left them was his greatest.

The celebration of Mr. Kleckley's life will take place on Friday, October 22, 2010, at 3 p.m. at Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington with the Rev. Jeff Kersey and the Rev. Evelyn Middleton officiating, with burial in Southland Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday at Thompson Funeral Home of Lexington.

Pallbearers include Ulysees Gilliard, David Pair, Harry Simpson, L.W. Smith, Brent McCullar, Lee Hoover, Bryan Thornton, David Dodge and Wayne Coates. Honorary pallbearers will be Brookland UMC Methodist Men, Mt. Horeb UMC Men""'s Friday Morning Prayer Group, Wednesday Morning Lizards Thicket Prayer Group, Lexington FCA - Adult Chapter, TMCI - Missionary Church International, the men of His House Ministry, Brookland UMC Loyal Workers Class, BUMC Young At Heart, and members of the Swansea Hunt Club.

It was Mr. Kleckley's request that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Lexington FCA - Adult Chapter 3172 Wilton Road, West Columbia, SC 29170 or to the Pineview PAL Special Needs Baseball League, (Jim Kleckley memorial), PO Box 4526, West Columbia, SC 29171, where he enjoyed seeing his grandson, Reuben, on the pitchers mound.

The family would like to thank the loving staff of Agape Lexington, Agape West Columbia TCU, and Agape Hospice for their care and friendship during Jim's journey home.

Family and friends may sign online guest book at