Harry was born to Harold and Viola (Sparks) Klessen on July 31, 1933 in Armour, South Dakota. He grew up in Sioux Falls and and graduated from Washington High School. On May 21, 1954, Harry married the love of his life, Peggy Haas.
He served in the Air Force from 1953 to 1957 and worked as an auto body repairman from that time until 1965. Later that year he began his teaching career at the then-new Lincoln Senior High School. Harry spent the next 29 years inspiring students to work hard and always do their best. He retired in 1993. During his teaching years, Harry studied nights, weekends and summers to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Dakota at Springfield in 1978.
Creativity was a hallmark of Harry’s life. He enjoyed writing poems and short stories, some of which were published, but was mainly known for his 40 years of work as an artist and sculptor. Restoring old cars, particularly Mustangs, was another favorite pursuit.