HOWARD L. KLEIN - WILLISTON - Howard L. Klein, born Feb. 5, 1928, in the Bronx, to Aaron Klein and Sally Sattler, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in the Vermont Respite House in Williston, due to the complications of life and "an aging digestive system." His friend, Victoria St. John, was at his side. He often referenced his "mediocre career" as an engineering "job shopper" which ultimately landed him in Vermont. He settled in the Burlington area in the 1980's because it suited him so well. In retirement, he found a community of friends as a volunteer at Vermont Public Radio. He leaves behind his children, Randall Klein of Darien, Conn., and Ann Klein of New York City; daughter-in-law, Susan Lafferty Laidlaw of Housatonic, Mass.; six grandchildren, Lizzie, Will, Maggie, Jason, Mike, and Greg; his beloved cat, Cali; and more lady friends than any of us can account for.
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His friends at VPR shared these remembrances:
I can't think of a more dedicated volunteer than Howard Klein who volunteered for VPR 1 to 2 hours a day for nearly 29 years. He opened our mail, processed checks, stuffed envelopes, gave us a hard time, and kept it real. We were his family and he was definitely a member of the VPR family. He worked alongside early VPR visionaries such as Ray Dilley and Ray Phillips, he saw decades of staff members coming and going, and he witnessed VPR's public service expansion first hand. Over the years he insisted that we double his salary every year or so, which was easy to do since he was volunteering his time. He will be dearly missed. - Robin Turnau
I fell in love with Howard when I discovered he is a dog person and he gave me his daily dog calendar from the previous year so I could decorate my workspace with dog photos. I remember how much he hated for me to hug or kiss him - but he warmed up to it eventually, and would even stand still for it and smile. Thanks Howard, for your cute hairy ears. I will miss you. - Franny Bastian
He was a uniquely charming curmudgeon. Something about his crankiness was endearing. Perhaps because he was so willing to freely speak what the rest of us sometimes think and feel - and censor. - Cody Fiala
Soon after I began working at VPR in 2002, I discovered that I very likely had some Jewish heritage. This pleased Howie, who called me one of the Chosen People, although he took that back whenever he felt like it and called me a "shiksa," or "meshuggina." To prove myself I made him a kugel for Hanukkah one year, and I will never forget the joy on his face. He hugged me, and he HATED hugging. I made him one every Hanukkah from there on out. - Michelle Jeffery
Howard Klein was like a father to me, and I loved him unconditionally because god knows he could be a royal P.I.T.A.! But I was still glad to see him come through the front door at VPR every day. Who will I share my love of Yiddish and old NYC stories with now? There's a hole in my heart named "Howard, you need a haircut," "Yes Howard, life IS a bowl of cherries," "Howard, you're a nice man," to which he would reply, "I know." There can never be another you. - Ty Robertson
Howard set a refreshingly high standard as Station Curmudgeon, which I will do my best to emulate. His interest in crossword puzzles reflected a bright and curious thirst for knowledge, and we would often commiserate when unable to decipher the Sunday NY Times puzzle theme. Doing the puzzle will now be a lonelier experience. - Neal Charnoff
The friends and family of Howard Klein wish to express their deepest appreciation of Sharon Keegan and the staff and volunteers of Vermont Respite House. Although it would have been Howard's wish to have the right to "Death with Dignity," he did realize that they are truly angels of mercy who walk among us. Howard Klein promised his handsome remains to UVM's medical school, therefore no services will be held. Instead, please join a celebration of Howard's life and favorite foods on Saturday, April 13, 2013, 12 p.m. at VPR, 365 Troy Ave., Colchester. Please RSVP to Ty Robertson at email@example.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Howard's honor to the Chittenden County Humane Society.
Published in The Burlington Free Press on Mar. 17, 2013