1915 – 1978 (November 4)
John Aloysius Klekotka was born in Philadelphia, PA., on February 4, 1915, to Peter Klekotka and Josephine Jekot, and was baptized on the day of his birth in the church of St. Stanislaus, Philadelphia. He received his early education at James Alcorn Public School and St. Stanislaus Parochial School. He attended Roman Catholic High School, where in June 1931, he received the Latin Prize at graduation. After employment as a typist, he entered Villanova College and, in June 1935, earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering. On March 16, 1936, John entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, NY, as a post graduate postulant. On September 9, 1936, he was accepted to Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, professed simple vows on September 10, 1937, and solemn vows on September 10, 1940. He studied theology at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1941. The following year, he earned an M.S. degree in Physics from Catholic University, Washington, DC.
In June 1942, Father Klekotka began twenty-three years of service to Villanova College, first as Professor of Science, then from 1951 to 1956 as Director of the Electrical Engineering School. From 1954 to 956 he was Executive Coordinator of the Nursing Division, and from 1954 to 1959, Director of Alumni Relations. In 1956 Father Klekotka became College Chaplain and from 1957 to 1959 was Director of Admissions.
In 1959 he was named 23rd President of Villanova College.
In 1965 he stepped down from the presidency and served as prior of the community at Monsignor Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, PA. In August 1971, he was appointed pastor of St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Rosemont, PA., and from 1975 to 1977, he was prior at Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Chestnut Hill, PA.
Over the years Father Klekotka received several honorary degrees: from Alliance College, Cambridge Springs, PA; from LaSalle College and from Dropsie College, Philadelphia, PA.
He was awarded the prestigious Freedoms Foundation Medal, the George Washington Honor Medal, and received the Villanova Alumni medal. He also served as a member of various Boards and professional societies: The Crime Commission of the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia World Affairs Council, Education Council of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Priests Senate of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Board of Directors of the Urban League.
In June 1968, he delivered a homily in memory of the deceased members of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. His conclusion is appropriate for all time: “In these days as we strive so earnestly to achieve true Augustinian Community, let us remember that these men are still in community with us. We need them and perhaps they may need us a while more. Each of them has left a part of himself to each one of us. Grateful for the heritage they have bequeathed to us, may we always remember them before the altar of God and ask the Father of all consolation to bring them to eternal rest. Amen."
In 1977, though he had suffered several strokes, Father Klekotka returned to St. Thomas parish in Rosemont, as an associate. On November 4, 1978, he passed away at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at St. Thomas of Villanova Church. Interment was first at St. Mary's, Villanova, and later transferal to the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.