Richard S. Klimek, the “Father of Vineland High School soccer," 69, passed away peacefully with loved ones by his side on January 15, 2020. Rich was born in Atlantic City in 1950, but was a lifelong resident of Dorothy, NJ. He graduated from Vineland High School in 1968. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, followed by his Master’s degree from Villanova University. Rich returned to Vineland to teach History at Vineland High School for the next 36 years, retiring in 2009.
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Rich was also a coaching legend at VHS. He served as the baseball coach for 13 years, winning 206 games and 10 Cape-Atlantic League American Conference championships. Rich also started the soccer program in 1974 and coached for 31 years. He amassed a 431-151-46 record and won the Group IV South title twice, the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Tournament once and the CAL American Championship 10 times. He was particularly proud that he achieved the national shut-out record of 16 shut-outs in one season (1995). Vineland High School named its soccer field after him in 2017. This was his greatest honor.
Rich has received a number of accolades along the way, including: 1995 SJ Coaches Association “Coach of the Year;” Press of Atlantic City “Coach of the Decade” (1980s); 1997 inductee to the SJ Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame; founder of the Vineland Junior Soccer League in 1975 (serving as President from 1975-1980); and most recently an inductee to the Vineland High School Hall of Fame (2008). He also served as President and Treasurer of South Jersey Soccer of Hall of Fame.
He always wanted to leave a positive mark on the teams and players that he worked and competed with. Coaching has always been in his blood. He strived to develop the character of his players through the wins and losses. Rich has been quoted saying, “I don’t believe I made great players, but I do think I helped them find the greatness within themselves.” This is the legacy that he will leave behind.
Rich had a zest for life and enjoyed traveling, sports games, and anything music related. He frequented the Florida Keys and loved the tropical environment. Rich had a love for history and always looked for ways to incorporate that in his travels. He was always wanting to try something new, experience something unique. He always had a smile on his face and always looked forward to sharing his stories with others. Above all, Rich was kind-hearted, compassionate, and loyal. He went out of his way to always care for others. He looked forward to his Saturday mornings with the Breakfast Club and spending time with family.
Rich is survived by his son, Kristopher; daughter Kelsey Thompson; son-in-law Zack Thompson; grandchildren Elijah and Isabella; his longtime companion Patricia Holden; and many friends that he considered family. He is predeceased by his parents, Frank and Mary Ann and brothers, Frank and Steven.
Please join in celebrating Rich’s life from 6pm-9pm on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at Langley-Loveland Funeral Home, 2315 Rt 50, Tuckahoe, followed by a second visitation Monday, January 20, 2020 from 9am-10am. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held afterwards at 11am at the St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church, 20 Pennsylvania Avenue, Dorothy, NJ. Condolences can be shared at www.LangleyLovelandFuneralHome.com.