Area Obituaries: Klemola, Cotant

Nov 27, 2023 | Featured, Regional News

Torrington, WY (Colyer Funeral Home) November 27th, 2023 — William “Bill” Klemola passed away on November 22, 2023 in Torrington, WY due to a sudden illness. Colyer Funeral Home assisted the family with cremation and a memorial service will be held at a later date. A wake has been planned for December 2nd at noon at the Nugget Bar in Hanna, WY.

“Klem”, “Coach Klem”, “Pa” was born in Hanna Wyoming on December 30,1937 to Wayne and Helen (Briggs) Klemola. The family moved to Washington during the war where his dad was a welder in the shipyards and his mom was riveter for Boeing. They returned to Hanna after the war and it was there that Klem spent most of his life. He was very active in sports and was quarterback of the 1954 6-man State Championship football team. Upon graduation he attended the University Wyoming where he majored in teaching and minored in science. His senior year he married Charlotte (Mitchell). He took his first teaching job in Rock River where he also coached basketball and track.

They made their home in McFadden where they had two kids, Keri and Buck. In 1966 he took the job as industrial arts teacher and coach in Hanna where he worked until his retirement. John was added to the family in 1968 and Lincoln in 1970. All four kids obtained their education at Hanna and were graduates of H.E.M. Klem touched many lives during his tenure as teacher and coach. He was JV Basketball coach and head Track Coach his entire time at Hanna, and while he was a hard man, he was fair. He always had his students and athletes best interests at heart, and you knew as long as he was yelling at you he cared! Feeding a family of six wasn’t easy those days on a teaching salary. Fortunately Klem was an avid hunter and fisherman. He taught all his children how to put food on the table as well and some of their fondest memories were being on the mountain or at the lake with him. Klem enjoyed golf and played all the way up to his last few years. Many of his lifelong friendships are a result of his love for the outdoors.

Klem was preceded in death by his parents and his wife. He is survived by his daughter Keri Smith of Rock Springs, WY, son Buck (Susan) Klemola of Torrington, WY, son John (Jodie) Klemola of Laramie, WY, son Lincoln (Michelle) Klemola of Gillette, WY grandsons Sam Smith of Petersburg, IL Aaron Smith of Springfield, IL, Ryan Klemola and Daegan Klemola of Laramie, WY, granddaughters Tressa (Chad) Wellman of Cheyenne, WY, Corrie (Jack) Leiseth of Saratoga, WY, Erika (Philip) Sully of Gilbert, AZ, Harley Klemola of Providence, RI, and Hannah Klemola of Gillette, WY and five great grandsons and three great granddaughters.

A celebration of life for PATRICK “RICK” COTANT, 75, will be held 1pm Saturday December 2, 2023, at the Eastern Wyoming College Auditorium with Reverend Jeff Wayland officiating and Pastor Ty DesEnfants co-officiating. A “Cookies and Cokes for Cotant” reception will follow the service. A private family burial will take place prior to the celebration of life.

Rick lost his battle with pancreatic cancer November 20, 2023, at home with his loving wife, Marilyn, by his side and cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be given to the “Coke’s for Cotant” account located at Pinnacle Bank in Torrington. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Colyer Funeral Home and condolences may be sent to

Rick was born to James O. and Dorothy M. (Brower) Cotant on March 11, 1948, in Ft. Worth, TX. At
approximately 1½ years of age, just after he contracted polio in his legs, the family relocated to
Scottsbluff, NE. They then moved to Gering, NE where he attended Gering Public Schools. He
participated in numerous school activities, including Cross-Country, Track, and Football. He
graduated in 1966, which was the first class to graduate from the new Gering High School.
Rick married Marilyn Jean Lee of Mitchell, NE on December 27, 1968. In 1970, Rick graduated
from Chadron State College with a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies. He was drafted into the
US Army, and served as a Personnel Clerk in Bitburg-Spangdahlem AF Bases and was honorably
discharged in May of 1972. Rick became an Elementary PE Teacher in Gering, then in 1974 began
teaching Social Studies at Gering High School for 13 years. Rick was the Head Girl’s Basketball
Coach (1 year), and the Head Track/Cross-Country Coach at GHS for 13 years. In August of 1984,
Rick obtained a Master of Science in Education Administration from Chadron State College.
Rick and Marilyn moved to Torrington, WY in 1986, and a year later he became the Assistant
Principal at Torrington Middle School, where he worked with Principal, Marvin Haiman for a total
of nearly 30 years. He retired from TMS in 2014, and worked as a substitute and interim
Administrator/Teacher for GCSD#1 until June 2023. He was the Assistant Track/Cross-Country
Coach at THS for 21 years, and the LFL Assistant Track Coach for 5 years.

Rick’s hobbies included collecting sports memorabilia, Coca Cola products, and various
collectibles, including classic cars. Rick loved all sports, but particularly track and cross-country.
Rick will be forever remembered as helpful, hard-working, kind, generous, and dependable.

Survivors include Rick’s wife, Marilyn Cotant; sons Casey (Kristi), Coeur d’Alene, ID and Brian
(Becky), Buffalo, WY; grandchildren Landon, Camden & Logan, Coeur d’Alene, and
Paxton & Kaelyn, Buffalo; Brother, Mike (Vonnie) Cotant, Gering, NE; Sisters-in-Law Idona,
Overton, KY, Pam Cotant, FL, and Linda Cotant, IN. He was preceded in death by his parents; Half-
Brothers, Don & Dale Overton; Brothers, William & James, Jr. Cotant.