My friend Klaus Hilgers passed away on February 28th 2008.
Klaus was an internationally renowned public speaker and seminarist who delivered seminars to tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people all over the world, over the last 25 years. He was the best public speaker I’ve ever seen, and could put together a seminar overnight on just about any subject.
He told the story of going to deliver one seminar many years ago, but when he got there and started delivering the subject he’d been asked to deliver to a group of about 20 people, they were very uncommunicative and non-receptive to the material he was delivering. It only took him a minute to figure out that something was really, drastically wrong. He stopped in mid-thought, and got into communication with each member of the audience (this was his real skill), one at a time, and surveyed every member of the group that had gathered to hear him speak. He found out they were all there on threat of being fired if they didn’t attend–it was some Human Resources last-ditch attempt to correct the behavior of this particular group of employees. They were completely unreceptive to the material he had prepared, so he polled them to find out what they DID want to hear about, and delivered his seminar on that subject, completely off the cuff. I believe the subject they settled on was “How to Get Along With Others”. He got rave reviews from all of them at the end of the seminar when they filled out their survey sheets.
I first met Klaus in about 1995, through my group of poker pals when I lived in Clearwater, Florida. He was tremendously funny. He had many anecdotes about his travels all over the world, the people that he’d worked with, and the troubles they’d gotten into together.
Klaus and I wrote a book together in 1996, called “The Power of Agreements“, about the various methods anyone can use to create agreement with other people, in order to increase harmony among co-workers, or the members of any group. He really liked to help people get into communication with each other and resolve their problems; most of them, he said, just needed to discover the other guy’s viewpoint to realize how much they had in common. Like me, Klaus was a long-time Scientologist. Klaus will always have my enduring respect for the sheer volume of people to whom he had introduced the many technologies developed by Scientology‘s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Klaus could deliver seminars about the basics of organization, communication, ethics, or dozens of other subjects to people who had never heard of these things before, and be completely understandable–all seemingly without any effort on Klaus’s part.
The two things I liked most about Klaus were:
1) His completely genuine and unshakably positive attitude toward life. He didn’t just pretend to have a positive attitude, while secretly nursing some other viewpoint. There was nothing phony about it at all. He genuinely figured everything would work out, and it usually did. He would push things in the direction of positive outcomes, and most of the time they would arrive where he wanted them to go. It was nearly magical to watch.
An example: About ten years ago Klaus wanted to go see Eric Clapton perform in Tampa. We bought tickets, but when we arrived at the venue and found our seats, the sound quality was beyond abysmal with horrible echoes and distortion because of some curved walls bouncing the sound around, focused right on our seats. We sat there for about 30 seconds, then Klaus stood up and said, “Come with me!” Five minutes later we wound up about 30 feet from Clapton, watching him perform and listening without any distortion of the sound. Klaus may have looked conservative and acted always the gentleman, but he was nearly always enthusiastic about what he was doing, and he always made things go right.
2) His complete lack of an ego. Despite being the center of attention on countless stages and podiums around the world, he would talk with anyone; he was completely approachable. He did not expect and never demanded any special treatment or rock star status; he was completely unassuming. His friends and poker pals were regular guys and gals; salesmen, dentists, writers, students — he asked of his friends only that they treat each other well and get along.
He loved the Grateful Dead — a passion I did not share with him although he managed to drag me to one of the last Grateful Dead concerts, a couple of months before Jerry Garcia died. Klaus commented during the concert on the fact that Jerry didn’t look too hot and wasn’t playing up to his normal high level. He kept trying to get me excited about the tapes he collected of the various Dead concerts and the nuances of Dead performances. I just didn’t “get” the Dead and we often laughed about it. He called it my “flaw” and I called it my “ability”.
Our Clearwater group of poker pals has since scattered to the four winds–I’ve learned that such groups do not last for long, and never for long enough. One of our former members (Doug) now sponsors infrequent games in Portland, and one (Dan) has a regular weekly game in LA. We have one former member now living in Kuwait (take a bow, Rami), and a few still in Clearwater who are inactive at poker. They know who they are….
I finally convinced Klaus early in the 21st Century that he needed a website for his company, Epoch Consultants. I made Klaus’s website for him, and have been hosting it for the last 6 or 7 years. People from all over the world, to whom Klaus had delivered a seminar, would find him on this site and communicate back to him about various subjects. He was always getting photos sent to him of people whom he had helped–random photos from Greece, Taiwan, or Russia appeared with regularity.
Klaus last called me a month or so ago, to show me a website in which he had been instrumental, that took a lot of the management technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard and made it possible for any company to apply it easily, online. The website had the capacity to make graphs and keep a record of the statistics for every post in an organization; an organizing board; the policies (hats) that each of the staff were to follow; a way to communicate to each other through this site, and dozens of other features. He was very excited about this new website’s capabilities and looking forward to seeing it in action for his clients. (It’s a beta site still in development or I would link to it here.)
It was Klaus’s mission in life to make things more harmonious, make things go right, and help other people learn and communicate. In my view anyway, that was his goal in life, and one that, with great enthusiasm, he fulfilled to the max.
His poker pals will miss him. The world will not be the same.
Thanks for this lovely comm about my dear friend Klaus. I translated and redesigned 2 of his books… we had a lot more we wanted to get done!
Thank you for your homage to Klaus. I recently heard of his passing and was sad for us. Sad for those who knew him and loved him and for those who hadn’t had the opportunity to meet him as a friend or benefit from his amazing seminars.
I first met Klaus at a public speaking seminar 20 years ago which changed my life. A little over a year ago I took my 18 year old son to his seminar and it changed his life. The change was for different reasons but that was the beauty of Klaus. You might have been in a seminar with 20+ other people, but everyone got something very personal out of it which went beyond just public speaking.
I saw Klaus several months ago in Florida at our Church and he told me about the website you mentioned (the one still in beta testing). I hope that you help to get it launched. It seems fitting as he was so excited about it.
Thanks for the opportunity to write about a truly wonderful man.
I was deeply saddened about hearing of Klaus’ passing. There are some people who truly make the world a better place by their being in it. Klaus was such a person.
I didn’t know him well–only had seen him a handful of times over the last 7 years, but when you meet him, you feel like you’ve known him forever and he leaves a lasting positive impression on you.
Without a doubt, Klaus was the finest speaker I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen Ziglar, Lowe, Dan Kennedy, and other “big” names) and after listening to him speak, you feel as though there’s nothing you can’t do…and you actually get value out of his talks.
He was every guy’s type of guy. A true gem.
Words can not adequately express all that he was to everyone he touched.
Warm regards to all who knew him.
I was informed today that several hundred people showed up at the memorial service for Klaus Hilgers in Russia held a few days ago. Anyone having pictures of the service? If so, please send them to me.
My friend Dan from Los Angeles gave me a description of one of the memorial services held for Klaus — this one in Los Angeles. Kevin Wilson of Sterling was the MC of the service, and several of Klaus’s good friends from WISE, with whom Klaus had a long relationship, spoke very highly of him. More than 200 people filled the hall where they had the service in LA.
A song written by David Pomerantz was sung by Carolyn Percy.
Harvey Schmiedeke gave an emotional eulogy, and Klaus’s friend Tim Mantis read from my original post above, as well as a poem he had written.
Dan also said that there have been seven memorials for Klaus around the world, including services in Taiwan, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Clearwater and Los Angeles.
I wish I could have been there —
Hi Jere. I worked for Sterling Management up until about 6 years ago, so I got to travel with Klaus for about 3 years to all of the seminars he gave for them, about one every 6 weeks. I remember him mentioning you many times.
Your original post here is really something! Such a poignant and accurate description of Klaus and his many amazing traits. (How cool that you would even include the link for the Grateful Dead’s site! Klaus would really appreciate that.) I wrote a letter to my friends at Sterling about Klaus, most of which I’ve included below. Thanks again for your lovely comm!
27 March 2008
Klaus will be greatly missed as a friend and teammate, and long remembered for his immeasurable contributions to Scientology, to Sterling’s staff and public, to his friends and family and to Mankind.
If you ask me what I remember best about him, it would be his sheer joy for the game of life and his love for continually creating it! Also, for anyone who ever met him, it was immediately evident that Klaus lived by the notion that, as Ron puts it, “The ability to assume or to grant (give, allow) beingness is probably the highest of human virtues”. In fact, Klaus took both aspects of that equation and elevated them to an art form. On the one hand exemplifying the very definition of personal competence, while also demonstrating how a tremendous level of love and caring for your fellows can easily be a fundamental part of who you ARE.
With just a smile or his warm, friendly greeting, maybe a few reassuring words, a little of that world class humor and so often simply by his presence, he always made you feel understood and appreciated, optimistic and energized all at once. To think that he accomplished this on a daily basis over so many years, with so many thousands of lucky people around the world–all the while introducing them to LRH tech–is nothing short of monumental!
I well remember his love of exotic food, and his elation over having just discovered some great new Chinese restaurant…sometimes the more out-of-the-way the better! And of course, his passion for great music, which never waned from his very first Grateful Dead concert at the old Fillmore East in New York City–a memory he recounted with much excitement on several occasions. And when he told it, with all of his characteristic zeal, I swear I could literally see some of the very sights he had seen and feel for myself that same excitement.
The first time I really got to know Klaus and his true character was September (1999, I think it was), at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He had been giving another talk somewhere way up north the day before our seminar and was to meet up with us that night at our hotel. Around 10PM or so, when we learned he still had not checked in to his room we naturally grew a little concerned.
The next morning, with our event about to start and still no sign of Klaus, we began to wonder how best to proceed without him. Just as we had all but given up hope of his arriving, and with literally only minutes to spare, he comes bounding across the courtyard, headed for the meeting room with materials in hand, fully prepared to take the stage and deliver to the public!
Right before he went on he told us how his connecting flight the night before had been indefinitely delayed by summer storms in Raleigh or someplace. Not content to just wait it out and hope for the best, he managed to procure a rental car (which itself was supposed to have been “impossible” under the circumstances) and proceeded to drive ALL NIGHT to South Carolina, arriving that morning with time enough to spare to get spruced up and ready to go!
It was plain from listening to him that he never once considered he would not make it go right. I was also struck for the first time by a part of him that really pointed to the playful heart of this adventurous being: in spite of it all, it actually seemed he got a really big kick out of being challenged to such an extreme! And you could sure see how proud he was that he “beat the odds” in order to fulfill his obligation to the group and to his audience.
Somewhat astounded, and very relieved, I remember sharing a sort of unspoken knowingness with some of the others, on the satisfaction of realizing “Man! We have got ourselves a real teammate here!” His talk that day was of course stellar, as was every single one I ever had the good fortune of hearing.
It didn’t take long for me to know that his gifts and skill as a speaker were unparalleled. From his ability to engage the audience and make them completely comfortable, to helping them appreciate, understand and assimilate the knowledge he imparted. To think of how much he enriched the lives of all those attendees, and the friends and families they took that data home to still blows me away.
Over the next few years, as we got to know each other better, he would sometimes call to ask me (more like get me) to help him hash out certain details of some of his new seminar topics for the coming year. I wondered once, “Why is he asking me? I mean, I’m not a trained lecturer or anything”. Well, for two reasons, I now realize: he was spurring me to expand my reach; and he genuinely recognized and valued the quality of my input…even if I sometimes doubted it.
That was his nature: to always encourage and uplift, to insist that all those he came in contact with–all who were fortunate enough to get to know him, even a little–always took proper stock in their own worth and abilities and in the beauty and uniqueness of their own Beingness. “Of course you can do it” you could hear him thinking, “and you already know that. Now let’s get busy and create this game and have some fun together!”
What an honor it was to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with him. And what an inspiration. What a joy just getting to hang out with him. I’ll be looking forward to doing it again!
With love and sincere best wishes,
My company had hired Klaus as a consultant. He was great and very interesting. I am sorry to hear about him passing. Can someone tell me what happened?
Klaus was in remote Kazakhstan, near the Chinese border, giving a series of seminars in February, when he collapsed and was rushed to the local hospital. Doctors in Kazakhstan diagnosed and treated him for acute liver failure, but their capacity to both diagnose and treat was severely limited by language barriers and lack of proper equipment, drugs, etc. Within a few days, after a Herculean rescue effort to get him out of Kazakhstan and to a first-rate hospital, by his wife Peggy, his friend Nick (and Dan Mueller and Tim Mantis, and a ton of his other friends pitching in) Klaus was taken on a life-flight air transport (accompanied by qualified medical personnel) to Munich, Germany, where the doctors then diagnosed and treated him for kidney failure.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, Klaus passed away peacefully on February 28, 2008. He is survived by his wife Peggy and his son Eric.
I don’t have the history with Klaus that the rest of you had. Actually I only met him twice and our time was brief. I was very impressed by him. He actually took the time to help me after a seminar on ways to help my 6 year old catch a baseball. I used his technique’s and it worked. His intelligence was obvious. His presence was very comforting and talking to him was like sitting with an old friend or trusted confidant. I will definitely miss him!
Klaus was an extraordinary speaker, one of the best I’ve ever heard. He was a truly humble and brilliant man with the gift to talk about anything and the ability to keep the entire audience enthralled. He will be remembered for his wit and humor, as well as the “did you get one or two good ideas today?” that he always asked when we attended a seminar. He will be missed.
We had the priveledge to meet Klaus at our first seminar in Hilton Head in August 2007. His knowledge and wit set a high stardard for the upcoming seminars we plan to attend. He taught our staff work ethics that each of them used in their home life as well. His humorous lectures kept us attentive and laughing throughout the entire seminar. He went above and beyond what we had ever expected! We had looked forward to seeing him in Atlanta this past Feburary and was sad to learn of his sudden illness. We are all deeply saddend by this great loss and our prayers are with his family and close friends during this time of trial. Although we only knew him a short time, he made us feel like we’d known him forever and he will greatly be missed.
Klaus and I met back in 1984 in a large health and racquet club in East Hanover, New Jersey called Four Seasons. He and I both did consulting for the owner. We got along great and became friends. He and I spoke at many conventions at the same time in the United States and Canada and got to spend personal time together. He was a tremendous person with tremendous skills to help people maximize their success potential. The world of business will miss him, but I will miss him personally. He was great man.
I worked with Klaus for just over a year. He was great. He never had any doubts about what he wanted to accomplish. He was an inspiration to be around.
ich habe eine kurze Zeit mit dir gearbeitet, es war die bisher erfolgreichste Zeit meines beruflichen Lebens. Ich wÃ¼nsche dir, wo immer du auch jetzt bist, eine glÃ¼ckliche und erfolgreiche Zeit
This translates roughly as: I’ve worked a short time with you, it was the most successful time in my professional life. I wish you, where ever you are now, a happy and successful time.
Dein Freund Detlef
Klaus helped raise me back in NJ. He helped me grow to the person I am now. It has been years, but he will always be in my heart and mind.
He will be missed.
Klaus was a wonderful friend, neighbor, est leader, coach, husband, father and MAN.
Fond memories will always be with me and New Jersey…
It is with great sadness I read this.
Klaus and Peggy were a special people and a close friends.
I lost touch, mostly my fault and for that I am very sorry.
I think of the similar business problems, Klaus and I shared, that we worked on together, he helped me more than I did him by a long shot. Thanks again.
The white water rafting trips we took to West Virginia every spring for three years. “Are we there yet?”
The family times we broke bread together, all of us. Hi to Eric and from all of us condolences. “Andy too”
The partys in the back yard that we all went to with up to 200/300 people. Good times for all.
The trip you took to Germany to get in touch with your roots and how you felt about it.
No Klaus we all will miss you and want everyone to know that you left this world a better place than you found it. I’m sure that you are leading seminars in heaven aiding people to get more out of this new life.
The introduction to your mother and her help in Burmuda. Sharing was part of our very special friendship.
Peggy if you read this please E mail me so we can resume something I never should have let slip away.
Bob Newman (email@example.com)
Klaus is one of the people who made a difference in my life and my family thru his work with EST in NJ
He will always be remembered with love
12/17/2009. Today I just found out that my mentor and role model had past away. I am extremely sadden by this news. I met Klaus in May or 1978 in Red Bank N.J. He was being interviewed for the position of Director of the Red Bank Outreach Center for Substance Abuse. I ( a former abuser and ex-felon) was the Vocational Educational counselor. I was one year removed from completing Discovery House, An 24 hour Therapeutic program. Although I had completed the program, everyday I was fearful of going back into my old habits.
Klaus, was hired as the director, and with in less than a week I had fully trusted him and shared my story. I remember he saying “I Got It” with out any judgment what so ever. I had never been gotten with any opinion.
Klaus, introduce to a book by S.I. Hayakawa regarding “agreements”. That book and the discussion about agreement was the bases of my successful recovery and the foundation of my success.
Klaus taught me that power and success is product of agreement and there are things one could do, to create agreement.
Klaus, also introduce me the est training and since then in 1979, I have been a champion of transformation.
Many times, I would complain about this and about that. Klaus would normally say, you need to create more agreement around you about who you are going to be rather than reinforcing who you use to be.
Klaus Hilgers and the his then wife, Peggy, saved my life.
I miss you Klaus.
Thanks for sharing, Kenny.
Klaus told me several amusing stories about his work as an est trainer, which he did prior to his involvement with Scientology. He was so dedicated to helping others; when he found how much of the basic information in Scientology was helpful to people, he spent the next 30 years teaching people the basic info of Scientology: how to get along with other people, how to manage others, how to manage a business using statistics, how to motiviate people to do things, and how to help people do the things they want. His life’s work continues to influence the many people he helped in his long public speaking career.
BTW, Peggy and Klaus were still very happily married when he passed away last year. They had a great relationship. She flew out to Kazahkstan from LA when she learned that he was ill, and was with him during the LifeFlight to Germany, and through to the end.
I was looking around the internet for old classmates from my high school days. I was saddened to find that Klaus has left us. He was a happy, quiet, gentleman in Orange High School. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
We are having our 45th reunion in October and I will pass this information on to all.
Jane Melchionda (Martini)
I knew Klaus in high school. He and I would duck out of school at lunch time to get sandwiches at the local deli around the corner. I thought that I instigated this but, from reading about Klaus, it must have been him. He was fun to be with and I enjoyed reading about all of his future success and good influence on so many people. I am sorry to hear of his passing and that we did not keep up with each other after high school.
Although it has been 2.5 years approx. since Klaus left, I just heard about this very recently and I was pretty taken back by the news. Klaus was a unique, wonderful person and although I met him only once at the Hubbard College of Administration International in Los Angeles, I will not forget him ever. He was one of those guys that you instantly like, because he instantly likes YOU – a lot. :)
I also met Peggy, Nick T, John D, Gerald P, all the HCA Int staff at that time, and I loved them all, still do.
I sorry you had to leave us my friend, but I’m sure you are already back in the game. We’ll see you soon. What a fantastic legacy you have left. :)
To my dear friend from Orange, New Jersey and Camp Kittatinny, you’re in a beautiful place now. I just found out that Klaus passed and I am beside myself. We were great friends in our youth and enjoyed the beauty of summer YMCA camp. I had the pleasure of seeing Klaus about 10 years ago at a camp reunion.
You will be sorely missed by Kittatinny’s Alumni and my deepest sympathies to Klaus’s wife and son. What a loss on so many fronts and way too soon.
I am so very sad to hear of Klaus’ passing. As I am attending another Camp Kittatinny reunion this weekend, I was asking Greg about the whereabouts of Klaus, as he was one of my favorite young men who I knew well as the camp director’s wife. I was fortunate to get to know most of the young counselors well in the late 1960’s. Klaus was one of the boys who I was especially was fond of. The discussions I had with Klaus had the lasting impression of someone who was a deep thinker for someone his age. Having read the remarks of all his many friends, I am not at all surprised at the remarkable and influential effect Klaus had on so many lives. I have a photo of him at camp and he hadn’t really changed very much. I only wish I could have attended just one of his seminars. Still the broad smile and obviously a joyful life he had helping and guiding so many in so many lands. My heart is sad and I feel so proud to have shared some time with him as a young man, destined to help so many.
I somehow thought of my old buddy and teacher, Klaus today. Having Starbucks on Cleveland street. This man was as smart, as caring, as funny, as genuine, as any person I ever met. I miss him dearly.
Have already been three years since as Klaus left us. But his memory still lives on in our mind. People from Russia remember and love you Klaus!
Thank you so much for us.
I thought of Klaus today and was saddened to find this post when I googled his name. Lots of good times with him on his trips to Texas in the early 90’s. He taught me a lot…… “attention units” will forever remind me of him.
Now at least, he will no longer have to do laundry according to his “agreement”.(smiling)
A Klaus Hilgers y su Familia
Por su entregada Vida, a ayudar a los demás a Prosperar, te estamos Agradecidos.
Y esperamos volverte a encontrar.
Valencia – Spain
Google Translate: For his life given, to help others to Thrive, we are grateful. And we hope to find you again.
I just recently learned that Klaus had passed away. Only just now did I read it being seven years ago. Klaus and I shared the beginning of our existential searching in 1969. Grateful Dead concerts at the Fillmore East, and educated together by our friend and mentor Ruth Zablotski. We did our first ‘discovery’ cross country trip the summer of 1970, reading aloud, R.D Lang’s ‘Politics of Experience’, Herbert Marcusa’s ‘One Dimensional Man’. Listening to our three 8 track tapes, ‘Live Dead’, ‘Beautiful Day’, and ‘Quick Silver’s Messenger Service’ over and over. Stayed with all types of friends and aquaintances along the way, special places, so many etched in my mind, full moon in Canyon de Chey, turned away at Disneyland for long hair, Naked with the forest people in Big Sur, chanting with Steven Gaskin at the Family Dog, sunrise circle ‘church’ in Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury.
The next years we shared Michio Kushi and Macrobiotics, EST in 1975. Klaus and Peggy’s ‘est’ wedding up the Hudson. Last saw him in 1983-4 after he moved to Florida. So great to hear that he lived the dream, always engaged pursuing the ‘unifying principal’ and One Peaceful World.
‘Every front has a back.
The bigger the front,
The bigger the back.’
I am sad and deeply moved, seeing your face, reflecting on….. our long strange trip.
Love you gone friend,
I just now learned that Klaus passed years ago, and I am so sad. I met him when I was taking a special Club Management program at the Executive School of Business at the University of Michigan in 1987. He was a fantastic teacher, and listening to him speak was like taking a drink out of a fire hose. I learned so much so fast that I made a point to attend all of his future seminars at club industry conventions. I came away with the tools I needed to manage my business and live a happier life.
The U of M experience was an intimate group of only 50 people, so we came to interact with our instructors/speakers and develop friendships easily. I instantly felt like Klaus was a pal, good friend, and I was grateful to have known him.
I am deeply saddened to learn he has passed far too early from this world. I often have thought of him and wondered where he was and what he was up to. I finally clicked on google and found this page. My sincere condolences to his family and close friends. I am honored to have known him, even if for only about 10 years. Things I learned from Klaus helped to improve my life. Thanks, Klaus, gone but not forgotten.
I’m reading this sad news about Klaus for the first time. Some of the tributes, however, are wonderful and heartwarming. I knew Klaus when he was my counselor at Camp Kittatinny in the mid 60s. He was such a great guy and taught me so much that summer. He joined our family for dinner once after the summer was over. Interestingly, about 20 years later, I ran into him in an airport, and we talked briefly. I’ve always thought about him, and sad that he left us so early.
Ich habe als sein Halbbruder erst in 2011 durch das Internet von seinem Tod erfahren. Unser Kontakt brach nach dem Tod unseres Vaters ab.Klaus war mit Peggy und Eric mehrfach bei uns in Datteln (Deutschland) zu Besuch und meine Frau Marina und ich haben Sie ins Herz geschlossen. Deshalb sind wir überaus traurig von seinem Tod aus dem Internet erfahren zu müssen.
As a half-brother, I only learned about his death in the Internet since 2011. Our contact broke down after the death of our father.Klaus was with Peggy and Eric several times with us in Datteln (Germany) to visit and my wife Marina and I have you in the heart. That is why we have been very sad to learn of his death from the Internet.
Klaus was a mentor to me. He has made my life grow exponentially. First meeting him in 2004 at a Survival Strategies seminar. While visiting Clearwater I stopped by his office to purchase some books. His secretary told me to wait for him as he was arriving shortly. We had a great dinner together where he explained basic Scientology to me. We then went to see a Star Wars Movie and had ice cream after. Only second time meeting him and he gave me the time like we were old friends. It was the start of a great friendship. One which I miss today. I name my daughter after him Amelia Klaurissa in honor of him.