Obituary: David D. Kling / Keystone Oaks teacher and wrestling coach
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David D. Kling, the former wrestling coach at Keystone Oaks High School who was elected to the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport, died Dec. 27 of complications from renal cancer. He was 65 and resided in Lakeland, Fla.
Mr. Kling was the head wrestling coach at Keystone Oaks from 1973 to 2003 and retired as the fourth-winningest coach in WPIAL history. He compiled a 381-152-2 record during his tenure and was named WPIAL coach of the year in 1986.
Mr. Kling coached long enough to mentor fathers and sons. J.J. Zanetta is the coach at Keystone Oaks and wrestled for Mr. Kling from 1999-2003. His father, Jay, wrestled for him at Keystone Oaks, too.
"He was all about winning and losing with class and representing KO in a positive way," J.J. Zanetta said. "You just knew wrestling was a sport he believed in. He loved helping young men mature and learn life lessons through the sport."
The only thing missing from Mr. Kling's resume was a state champion. In 2009, Mr. Kling could not hold back tears when he traveled from Florida to Hershey to witness Anthony Zanetta, J.J.'s brother, capture a second consecutive PIAA crown in the 119-pound weight class.
"I'm finding it tough to keep my composure to make a comment," Mr. Kling told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shortly after the young Zanetta's victory. "I've waited a long time for this. I just had to be here."
"He never had a state champion, but he had a lot to do with that," J.J. Zanetta said. "That was a pretty cool moment for him."
Before his coaching career, Mr. Kling was a standout wrestler in high school and college. He wrestled for his father, Lynn Kling, at Keystone Oaks and went on to star at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he was a two-time team captain and an All-American in 1968 after finishing fifth in the 130-pound weight class at the NCAA college division championships. His four-year record at IUP was 53-4-2.
Mr. Kling also was an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles in football, track and field and golf. He was an avid golfer and spent his retirement in Lakeland honing his game.
"He shot a par-72 the day before his first cancer surgery," said longtime friend Joe Reasinger, who coached football and track and field with Mr. Kling at Keystone Oaks. "His last words to me were 'If that's the last round I shoot, it's not a bad way to go out.'
"Dave was one of the good guys, a genuine person. In coaching, he wanted his athletes to be the best they could be and he didn't ever want to hear any excuses from them. He wanted them to take ownership and be responsible for the outcome. He was demanding, but he was loved by his athletes and students."
Mr. Kling taught social studies for 32 years at Keystone Oaks. Bill Urbanek was a principal and English teacher at Keystone Oaks and taught in the classroom next to Mr. Kling for years. He said former Keystone Oaks principal William Spence selected Mr. Kling to work with struggling students because he found ways to motivate and encourage them.
"Dave was always chosen to work with the struggling kids because he had the patience to work with those kids," Mr. Urbanek said. "And those kids responded to him."
Mr. Kling was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame western chapter in 2006. He also is a member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania wrestling hall of fame, the Pennsylvania wrestling coaches association hall of fame and the IUP athletic hall of fame.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn Ann of Lakeland; a son, Robert of Pittsburgh; a daughter, Jamie of Terra Alta, W.Va.; and a brother, Lynn Jr., also of Terra Alta.
A memorial service will be held at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church, 3319 West Liberty Ave., at 1 p.m. Jan. 19. The family will welcome friends at the church before the service beginning at 11 a.m.
The family requests that gifts be made to St. Jude Hospital by calling: 1-800-822-6344 and referencing tribute number 32506394.
First Published January 11, 2013 12:00 am