A longtime leader in homeschooling rights in the U.S. and worldwide, Christopher J. Klicka of the Home School Legal Defense Association, has died.

Klicka, 48, died yesterday following a 15-year battle with multiple sclerosis.

He was the first fulltime employee of the HSLDA and served the organization for 24 years as an attorney, spokesman and lobbyist. He was a homeschooling father and husband.

He is survived by his wife, Tracy, and seven children ages 11-21, as well as his parents, Ardath and George Klicka.

“Chris was both a people person and a goal person,” said J. Michael Smith, president of the HSLDA. “He cared deeply about people, but was also driven to always do more.”

Smith called Klicka “the most determined person I ever met in my life.”

“Even with all the things he accomplished every day at HSLDA, he continually wanted to tackle new challenges and serve homeschoolers in more and better ways,” Smith said. “He was so focused on the homeschooling world, but he was also very much focused on his family and dedicated to raising his children.”

Klicka served as the HSLDA’s first executive director and also was senior counsel.

He and his wife homeschooled all seven of their children. HSLDA officials said he traveled “across the United States (and around the world) defending families’ right to homeschool.”

He wrote five books on homeschooling, lobbied state and U.S. legislators and “sought greater freedom for homeschooling parents and students in every area – from local school districts to sports associations, college admissions departments, and military recruitment requirements. He sought to educate the educators, truant officers, policemen, judges, and even social workers about the benefits and legality of homeschooling.”

“Chris’ accomplishments as a lawyer for homeschooling are clear and of value that cannot be overstated. He was one of the most important pioneers of our movement,” said Mike Farris, HSLDA chairman.

“He believed that this truly is God’s way to teach children to love God,” Farris continued. “He believed it deeply. His conviction was infectious. He was a man of single-hearted devotion that I have never, ever seen equaled. The passion that Chris felt for the mission to which God called him never, ever, ever, ever dimmed, even slightly.”

On the HSLDA website, homeschooling families posted words of appreciation.

“It is people like Chris Klicka that remind us that we are not powerless or insignificant despite being outnumbered. He is our David, fighting a Goliath of bureaucracy,” wrote the Hawleys of Mesa, Ariz.

“We have been blessed by your efforts to secure legal homeschooling rights for us in California and the nation. We are in our 22nd year of homeschooling, with 2 1/2 left. The Lord has been gracious to allow you to work on His behalf all these years, and we thank Him, and YOU, for your efforts,” wrote Sue Butler on behalf of her family.

The organization also posted a video with statements of appreciation for Klicka made at a conference just weeks ago.

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