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March 9, 2013
Joseph W. Klein, known to all as Joe, of Ben Avon, died Saturday at home from complications of diabetes. Joe, a lifelong bachelor, was 67 years old when he died.
Joe had retired as a partner of the law firm Reed Smith in 2009. Since his retirement, he had pursued an interest in studying matters of religious faith.
Born in northeastern Pennsylvania on Sept. 18, 1945, Joe was the only child of Joseph and Madeline Eberle Klein, who operated a popular seafood restaurant in Mahanoy City.
After his father's untimely death at age 53 and the loss of the restaurant, Joe and his mother moved to Middletown, where his mother worked as a school teacher.
Joe graduated from St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia, and received a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
He worked as a drama teacher and later as chairman of the Fine Arts Department at St. Mary of the Woods College, Indiana, and as the director of a community theater in Minnesota.
After years of teaching acting, Joe changed course to attend law school at Vanderbilt University School of Law, Nashville, Tenn.
He started his second career at Reed Smith at 35, an age which was 8-10 years older than most young lawyers. Joe became a litigation partner at Reed Smith, where he worked primarily on environmental litigation and on will contests in Orphans Court. For many years, he ran Reed Smith's trial training program, teaching young lawyers how to "act" properly in court and using many of the skills he had honed in his first career as a college teacher of drama students. Joe acted as Reed Smith's Santa Claus for more than 15 years, convincing even the jaded older children that Santa was real.
Joe was a member of several bar associations and charitable boards and worked as a hospice volunteer after he retired.
He was a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Ben Avon, and had served on its administrative committee. Joe was most proud of two facts in his life, that he cared for his disabled mother until her death in 1985, and that he was one of the longest-known survivors of esophageal cancer.
From the time of his treatment in 1997, he had remained cancer free for more than 15 years.
Joe credited the good Lord and UPMC surgeon and researcher, James Luketich, MD, with his remarkable survival from this deadly cancer.
Joe is survived by several cousins who reside in the Hazelton area. He was particularly close to Anna Mae Eberle Moser.
His cousin, Joseph Eberle, preceded him in death. Joe was also preceded in death by Doodles, his very large, faithful and loving Golden Retriever.
Friends will be received from 10 a.m. Thursday until the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 154 Orchard St. A graveside service will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Friday at St. Fidelis Cemetery, Mahanoy City. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Sacred Heart Parish, 154 Orchard St., Pittsburgh, PA 15202. Arrangements are being handled by T.B. Devlin Funeral Home, www.devlinfuneralhome.com.
Published in Republican & Herald on Mar. 13, 2013