Herman Walter Kluge, 67, a longtime resident of Houston, Texas, passed away at home on June 2, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. Herman was born on February 9, 1951, in Galveston, Texas, to Floreen Jeanette Burney Kluge and Woodrow Carl Kluge, Sr. His parents, along with brother Woodrow Carl Kluge Jr., preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Carol McDavid (Houston, Texas), his younger sister and husband (Nancy and Barron Gimza of Denver, Colorado), their children (Amy Elizabeth and Brad Alexander), his older sister and husband (Marian and Tommy Jannett of San Marcos, Texas), their children (Debra Ann Jannett Lattie, Judy Lynn Jannett, Sharon Kay Wilsford, Sandra Ann Jannett Sacre), two great-nephews and five great-nieces, his sister-in-law and husband Martha McDavid Newman and Kevin Newman (Wimberley, Texas), and their children (Patrick Bowie Newman and Ella Rain Newman).
Herman achieved notable success in both his corporate and creative lives. Prior to his retirement in late 2016, over four decades in the corporate arena culminated in eight years as a Senior Vice President at Amegy Bank. There he managed tenant and landlord relationships and conducted site searches for branch expansion throughout Texas. He was also the presiding pun czar, making routine corporate meetings pretty interesting – always taking his work very seriously, but not himself. Immediately before joining Amegy, he was a real estate consultant and project manager, independently and with CB Richard Ellis. This followed a 15-year period at AIM Investments (now Invesco), where he became the Vice President of Facilities and Administration. During his last years at AIM, he led the planning of a new corporate headquarters building, and took immense pleasure in building a cohesive team of world-class architects, designers, real estate consultants, and other professionals. During his time at Amegy he also served as Board Member and then President of the Houston Chapter of the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA). One of his favorite activities was mentoring, often helping other people to negotiate the ups and downs of corporate life. He loved both facilities management (referring to it jokingly as “halls, walls, and stalls”), and commercial real estate (delighting in behind-the-scenes knowledge of who was building what, and where, in his home town). He was a staunch inner-looper and Montrose resident, and frequently treated visitors to driving tours of Houston’s lesser-known inner city neighborhoods, galleries, and warehouse districts. He truly loved his town, but also loved escaping Houston’s heat by travelling to Maine with wife Carol almost every fall, and making regular pilgrimages to his birthplace, Galveston, to walk and wade on the beach.
Although Herman enjoyed a successful corporate career, his most abiding lifetime passion was music. After receiving his first guitar on his 13th birthday, he began a lifetime of playing countless musical styles in countless bands – Top 40 and rock, blues, gypsy, “dawg”, jug-band, folk and folk/rock, bluegrass, country, pop, and jazz. He could play anything with frets and strings, but would sometimes say, with a grin, that “the guitar is the one I play pretty well”. Excelling in electric and acoustic guitar, he also played other instruments – keyboard, harmonica, drums (once wanting a drum set until his wife noted that it would leave no room for the dining room table). His joy while successfully executing a dazzling guitar solo was palpable – he and his instrument became one. He loved making music with friends, as well as writing and recording his and others’ music (he was a prolific songwriter), and was also happy as a supporting player while others took center stage. In recent decades, his primary bands were CowJazz, the Society of Little Friends, Moondance, The Triphonics, the Hand Me Downs, and the Billtones, but also participated in the multi-musician tributes performed by Fab 40 on the Discovery Green stage in downtown Houston. Earlier bands included The Empty Set, the Follicles, Fast Aubrey, Boodle Am Shake, Commitz, Roulette, Leftovers, Tuesday’s Leftovers, the Dale Band, the Midnight Flyers, and others.
His other creative enthusiasms were visual art and writing, especially short stories and poetry, and he published a fair amount of both. By his teens he had revealed a deft hand with both cartoon and formal drawing, designing band posters and the like. In 1989, he co-founded the Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe to promote and perform original literary work. He also wrote and produced several screenplays and radio plays, receiving IMDb screenplay credit for the film “Someone Special”. Even within his corporate career, Herman loved the challenge of transforming usually “mundane” writing (such as his IFMA “President’s Letters”, corporate newsletters and the like) into wry, sharp (but never unkind) humor and commentary. He also wrote a ‘zine, the “CowJazz Comprehendium”, until early 2001.
Herman was first diagnosed with head and neck cancer in September, 2010, and after successful surgery was pronounced “cured” by mid-2016. He then looked forward to an active retirement recording music (his as well as collaborations), writing, revisiting visual art, and travelling. However, a new tumor appeared in early 2017, only two months after his retirement from Amegy Bank. He met this new health challenge with hope, grace, and humor (as shown in his inspiring “Caring Bridge” posts of early 2017), and continued to affirm life with every fiber of his being. Surrounded by love, with his wife Carol and other family members at his side, he passed away peacefully on June 2, 2018. To Herman, life was always a wonderful mystery.
His family will hold a celebration of his life at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at two o’clock in the afternoon, Saturday, June 16, 2018. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Herman Kluge can be made to the oral cancer research fund at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (at www.mdanderson.org/gifts or directly to Dr. Ann Marie Gillenwater Research, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486) or to the charity of choice.