A Representative from Wisconsin; born in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wis., November 26, 1943; graduated from Don Bosco High School, Milwaukee, Wis., 1961; attended University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis., 1961-1962, 1967, 1970; Wisconsin Air National Guard, 1963-1969; accountant; member of the Wisconsin state assembly, 1969-1974; member of the Wisconsin state senate, 1975-1984; delegate, Wisconsin state Democratic conventions, 1966-1984; delegate, Democratic National Convention, 1980 and 1984; elected as a Democrat to fill the vacancy caused by the death of United States Representative Clement J. Zablocki, reelected to the ten succeeding Congresses (April 3, 1984-January 3, 2005); not a candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Ninth Congress in 2004.
When Marquette University started an internship program in Washington, D.C., in 1984 for students interested in careers in government and public service, Kleczka was a supporter — inviting students to his office, organizing gatherings and helping make contacts. Then Kleczka donated his campaign funds of $300,000 to endow what became in 2005 the Kleczka Internship Program. Marquette awarded him an honorary doctorate of law degree in 2005.
After graduating from Don Bosco High School in 1961, Kleczka attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for two years, worked as an accountant and served in the Wisconsin National Guard. At 24, he ran for the Legislature. He rose quickly in the Assembly and later the state Senate before winning a special election in 1984 to replace Zablocki in Congress.
Kleczka was arrested twice for drunken driving and the second arrest, in 1995, led him to acknowledge his alcoholism and seek treatment. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Bonnie.