WALTER C. KLEIN

Obituary
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KLEIN--Walter Charles. Born May 11, 1918 in New York City, died October 28, 2013 in New York City. A towering figure, both in stature and in personality, Walter led a very happy and accomplished life. Born to successful Austrian immigrants, he attended Horace Mann School, then attended a secondary school in Vienna (where he learned German for the first time), before returning to the United States to graduate from Harvard in three years. He married the former Mary Kennard Eddy (1921-92) of St. Louis, whom he met while he was at Harvard and she was at Wellesley. Walter was devoted to Mary and they had a 50-year partnership, including the raising of three children: Walter Charles Klein, Jr. (1943-2009); John Eddy Klein; and Margaret Kennedy Klein. Walter first worked for Swift & Company in Chicago and Buenos Aires and then, in 1947, joined Bunge Corporation in New York City, the North American arm of what is now Bunge, Ltd. Over the next 43 years, he transformed a small commodity business into a powerful integrated agribusiness operation in North America, with grain elevators, oilseed and grain processing plants, and river barges focused along the Mississippi River and tributaries south of St. Louis. He also was the force behind Bunge's international expansion in Asia, including Japan and China. Walter was a builder, and his entrepreneurial approach and risk-taking, his involvement in the business, and his dynamic personality were all important to his success. He was a long-time resident of Maplewood and then Short Hills, NJ, where he was a member of the Orange Lawn Tennis Club, Short Hills Club and Baltusrol Golf Club. In New York City, he was an enthusiastic member of the Knickerbocker Club. Walter was an entertaining story teller; a loyal Harvard alumnus and Wellesley supporter; an inveterate collector of artworks and early US stamps; an extensive traveler for business and pleasure; and a gifted linguist, speaking German, French and Spanish and studying Italian up until his death. Among many other gifts, Walter endowed a Harvard professorship and Harvard student scholarships and provided funding for a wing of Harvard's Barker Center for the Humanities, each bearing his name. He was also actively involved with the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. After his first wife Mary died, Walter married the former Virgilia Heimsath Pancoast, with whom he had become friends in New York. They were happily married for 20 years, took many wonderful trips together, and shared a love of art. Walter enjoyed Virgie's children and grandchildren as well as his own. After Walter had a stroke, Virgie devoted her full attention to his well-being. Walter is survived by his wife Virgie Klein of New York City; his son John Klein of Washington DC; his daughter Margaret Klein of New York City; Virgie's son John Pancoast of New Haven, CT; Virgie's daughters Star Eonnet of Paris, France and Stacy Clark of Dallas, Texas; three grandchildren Jennifer Klein Seaman, Thomas Klein and Laurie Klein Shanahan; and Virgie's five grandchildren Robin and Claire Pancoast, Estelle and Eloise Eonnet, and Dylan Clark. A memorial service will be held at 3pm on Monday, December 2 at St. James Episcopal Church, 865 Madison Avenue at 71st Street. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts should be directed to Central Park Conservancy or Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.

Published in The New York Times on Nov. 5, 2013
Walter Charles Klein
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