Why do I feel more saddened by the passing of a man I have no relation to, one I haven’t seen for nearly 30 years, than when I lost my own father seven years ago?
Theodore Kloos was an inspiration to generations of students as the choral director and music teacher with Neshaminy School District at the high school. With successful musical productions for three decades of students, including concerts, musical plays, and a tour exchange with choirs in Germany, he was an inspiration and mentor to hundreds of teenagers. In the course of his tenure as one of the most beloved teachers in Neshaminy history, Ted left a deep impression on our impressionable years, and in his retirement, found himself memorialized not only by the lives we led, but by having a renovated auditorium at the high school named in his honor.
What can I say about the man whom I have the fondest memories of those turbulent years from my life? I was one of the few lucky ones who knew the man for more than the usual high school tenure, as I had been involved with some of the summerstock musical productions he directed before I even came to be one of his students. With the grand strike of 1980, as a freshman at NHS I was given the opportunity to join the concert choir and tour Germany in 1981 – a rare privilege for a freshman, but after the shake-up with students and faculty after a 13-week strike, the choir needed a trumpet player, and I had yet to give up the horn. It would be the following year which would find me singing tenor, and a second German tour in 1983 gave me the opportunity to perform again – adding a solo performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine” arranged by Ted and his long-time friend, Ray Conniff.
Ted Kloos inspired creativity and fun. He created the music department at Neshaminy, developing such a rapport with Ray Conniff as well as his students, using arrangements by Conniff to inspire and entertain while teaching the basics of working together, harmonizing as a choir. Ted expanded the theatrical department by presenting a musical every year, giving the students an extra-curricular activity which would further expand their experiences with music as well as stagecraft. Organizing and maintaining a regular exchange with the Bad Ems choir in Germany, Ted managed to create a unique experience for those kids who managed to go overseas and experience life in another country for ten days, seeing historic locations and singing for the people of that country.
There is so much that could be said about Ted Kloos, but instead I will just let his legacy live on through my life, just as his family, friends, and students will continue to live their lives forever touched by him. “The show must go on,” he would tell us. And indeed, his part in this musical play will continue within us all.
Godspeed, Mr. Kloos.. may the peace and harmony you instilled in our youth be yours as you move on to the Great Concert of Angels.