June 7, 2005
NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Leo Klier, a 1946 graduate who played basketball at Notre Dame from `42-`46, passed away Saturday, June 4, 2005. The Washington, Ind. native was 82 years old.
Klier, nicknamed “Crystal” by legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, earned consensus All-America honors in `43-`44 when he led the Irish with a 15.4 scoring average, and again in `45-`46, when he led the Irish to a 13-0 start that remains the best in school history. Klier is one of only seven players in Notre Dame history to be named a consensus All-American twice.
The 6-1 forward may be best remembered by Notre Dame basketball fans for his epic battle with teammate Vince Boryla over the school’s single-season scoring record, which Klier held twice during his three-year college career. As a junior in `43-`44, Klier scored 293 points, breaking the mark of 290 that was held John Moir.
When World War II broke out, Klier, a graduate of the Midshipmen School in the V-12 program, was called into duty and forced to miss the ’44-`45 season. During that year, Boryla, a freshman, notched 306 points to claim the single-season mark.
Once Klier was discharged from the Navy, however, he would return to the Irish for his senior season and a head-to-head showdown with his younger teammate for the scoring record. In the end, the senior prevailed, as he scored 355 points en route to leading Notre Dame to a 17-4 record and a No. 1 national ranking, while Boryla totaled only 305 points.
Klier played 51 games for the Irish, averaging 15.3 ppg and shooting 56.3 percent from the field during his career. While a member of the Notre Dame program, Klier’s teams compiled a 45-15 record, including a win over Great Lakes Naval in ’43-`44 that halted a 25-game winning streak.
Klier played professional basketball for the Indianapolis Katuskys of the National Basketball League from ’46-`48 and the Fort Wayne Pistons from ’48-`50. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in ’77 and selected to Notre Dame’s All-Century Team prior to last season.
Following his playing days, Klier spent 27 years with the American Oil Company before starting his own business in Evergreen Park, Ill. He was a resident of Naperville, Ill. since `68.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Nancy, their nine children – Peggy DePersia, Marianne Klier, Michael Klier, Janet Gihle, Martha Betts, Kevin Klier, Carol Roth, Daniel Klier and Timothy Klier – and 21 grandchildren.
Visitation services will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at the Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home in Naperville. Funeral services will begin at 9:15 a.m. at the same location on Thursday, June 9, and proceed to a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian burial at St. Raphael Church.