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Services Friday for German-American civic leader

Services Friday in Salt Lake City for longtime Standard Optical manager.

First Published May 02 2013 03:50 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:31 pm

Services will be held Friday for Klaus Rathke, for many years a leading figure in Utah’s German-American community and a 30-year employee of Standard Optical, where he managed 13 stores.

Rathke died April 23 at a Holladay care center. His funeral will take place at noon at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2340 E. 1300 South, in Salt Lake City. Friends may call there from 11 to 11:45 a.m.

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Born in Berlin in 1934, Rathke’s home was destroyed during World War II, forcing his family to flee to Hanover. They emigrated to Utah in 1952, joining relatives who had come here in 1928.

Rathke, who had received theatrical training in Germany, quickly became part of a German theater that operated in Salt Lake City. He acted in shows for more than 20 years, including theater troupe trips to New York City, Iceland and Germany. He also performed at Pioneer Memorial Theatre and Hale Centre Theatre, where he was proud of his role as Otto Frank in "The Diary of Anne Frank."

With his theatrically trained voice and ability to speak three languages, Rathke also did voice-overs for commercials for companies such as Morton, Iomega and Kennecott Utah Copper and had a weekly German-oriented radio program.

"His love of his native land and of America was easy to see in everything he did," friend Angela Wellington said on the mortuary’s website.

Through his work at Standard Optical, Rathke was a member of the Salt Lake Chamber, Vest Pocket Coalition and The Downtown Alliance.

He was born on Jan. 30, 1934, to Walter and Friedel Rathke and married Annelie Frerking in Salt Lake City. He is survived by his widow, a son and a daughter-in-law.


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