Christmas came early this year for the City of Menominee in the form of a $3.8 million gift willed it from a native son and his wife who spent most of their lives in New Mexico.

The estate of Irene B. Klar and her husband Lt. Col. (Ret). Loren W. Klar left the sizable amount of money to the city to be split in two ways: $1.8 million to Spies Public Library and $1.8 million to the city recreation department.

To say city officials were surprised when informed the city had been bequeathed the money would be an understatement. According to City Manager Tony Graff, the city council will discuss the windfall at a special session.

“There are no words to express our gratitude on behalf of the Menominee community, to the Klars’ intentions for the betterment of the Spies Library and Menominee recreation as the benefactor for our citizens,” said Graff.

Loren Klar was the son of Elof and Hannah Klar who for a long time resided in the 1900 block on old Broadway, now 13th Street. The Klar residence was next door to the former Signal Electric Co., which in later years was Emerson Electric Co. Elof Klar was a well-known designer at Lloyd Manufacturing Co.

Loren Klar was born and raised in Menominee and was a 1939 graduate of Menominee High School. He played junior varsity and varsity football for the Maroons and was a member of the Glee Club, choir and opera. He later attended Michigan Tech University at Houghton and studied chemical engineering.

Like many young men at the time, he went into military service after graduating high school. When World War II broke out in December 1941, he became a bomber pilot and flew 8-17 Flying Fortresses with the 390th Bombardment Group of the 8th Army in Europe. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Michigan Tech in 1948 after the war ended in 1945.

He remained active in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was employed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a position he held until his retirement.

Mr. Klar sang in choruses in high school, college and Barber Shop Quartet groups. Mr. Klar died April 9, 2011 in Albuquerque. His wife, Irene, died there Jan. 12, 2019. Both were buried at the Klar family lot at Riverside Cemetery, Menominee.

We trust the city manager, mayor and city council will carefully weigh their options in the distribution of the Klar contribution to the city. Besides a variety of opinions coming from the city leaders and within the walls of city hall, there will be all sorts of suggestions coming from people involved in the library and in recreation. Perhaps the city should consider retaining a financial adviser to help it with its options. The city can do a lot of good things just be using the interest money on its investments.

We join the citizens of Menominee in expressing our gratitude to the Klar family for its unexpected and very generous gift to the community.