Mark Francis Klapperich was born in Austin, Minn., on July 1, 1951, to Herman and Odelia (Ulwelling) Klapperich. His son, Levi Joseph Klapperich, was born to Mark and Jorde (Hovland) Klapperich in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 24, 1981. They took their last flight together on May 25, 2008, while viewing the Yampa Valley below.
Mark grew up and attended school in Adams, Minn., graduating in 1969. He married Jorde in 1971 in Austin, Minn. They relocated to Hayden in 1981 with their two daughters, Katie and Anna. Levi was born in 1981 in Steamboat Springs. In 1996, Mark married Chris Thomas in Hayden.
Mark was a skilled and artistic craftsman and was considered "A Jack of all trades" - which is the same phrase that was often used to describe his father, Herman. He learned early the family trade of blacksmithing. His daughters remember that "Dad didn't just ask us to do a project, he worked with us and taught us everything he knew." Mark had a true interest in people and could BS with the best. He had a love for the outdoors, playing cribbage and classic rock 'n' roll. Mark and his son Levi had a special bond between them when it came to their passion for cars.
Levi considered his dad as his "go-to guy." A friend recently commented, "Levi flew an airplane like he was conducting an orchestra." This carried through with everything he chose to do: snowboarding, dirt biking, basketball, football and mountain biking. Levi grew up in Hayden and graduated from high school in 2000. He earned an associate degree in aviation technology from Colorado Northwestern Community College, and a bachelor's degree in aviation technology with a minor in finance from Metropolitan State College of Denver. Uncle Levi was bigger than life to his nephew and two nieces - a true inspiration. Levi left a lasting impression on everyone who has had the pleasure to know him.
Together, the two conquered the world and lived life to the fullest. Together, time stood still when they were under the hood of a car or counting points in a cribbage game. Mark shared his passion for life with Levi, and it is fitting that Levi was sharing his passion for flying with his father in their last conquest.
They were preceded in death by Mark's parents, Herman and Odelia Klapperich.
Mark is survived by his wife Chris Klapperich; daughters Katie Koppenhafer and her husband Thad, and Anna Bennett; sister Sheila Micka and her husband Tom; brother Steve Klapperich; grandchildren Zayne and Ellen Koppenhafer, and Jillian Bennett; stepsons Dylan, Jason and Matt Marchbanks; nieces Katy Ellis and her husband Jared, Libby Micka, Amy Edelbach and her husband Dave; nephews Doug Klapperich and his wife Jennifer, and Joe Micka; godmother Isabelle Morse; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Levi is survived by his fiancee Emily Bee; mother Jorde Neumiller and her husband Rod; sisters Katie Koppenhafer and her husband Thad, and Anna Bennett; nephew Zayne Koppenhafer; nieces Ellen Koppenhafer and Jillian Bennett; stepmother Chris Klapperich; step-siblings Dylan, Jason and Matt Marchbanks, Clayton Neumiller and his wife Brittany, and Audrey Neumiller; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.