Walter J. Klein

  • "I first met Walter when I was in Graduate school in..."
    - Amit Chandra
    - Nicole Boyd
  • "To Richard, Robert, Kathy, Betsy and the entire Klein..."
    - Terry Losardo
  • "I was a teenager when meeting Mr. Klein in the 1950's but..."
    - Fred McIntyre Jr.,
  • "Condolences and my deepest sympathies to the Klein family..."
    - Shaul Saddick
Service Information
J. B. Tallent Funeral Service & Crematory
1937 North Sharon Amity Road
Charlotte, NC
Celebration of Life
Friday, Jan. 18, 2019
1:00 PM
Temple Beth El
5101 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC
View Map

Surrounded by loving family and friends, Charlotte luminary Walter J. Klein, passed away at age 95 on January 15, 2019. He is survived by children Richard Klein, Robert Klein, Katherine Thiry, and Betsy Klein, 8 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Wife Elizabeth Goodman Klein, having passed in 2015, precedes Walter in death. Theirs was a joyful 70-year union.

Devoted to family, writing, Freemasonry, religious life, and a wide spectrum of interests and philanthropies, Walter proactively explored and infused societal vacuums. Walter will be remembered as a contributing citizen in enumerable organizations, a citizen who stepped up to the plate with infectious enthusiasm, a plan, and rolled sleeves.

Walter labored happily to sustain and elevate all aspects of his religious life. An executive committee member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and president of the Charlotte B'nai B'rith, many awards were gleaned as a result of impactful programs. He was Temple Beth El's President and long Board member. Other involvements included acting Board member of the Charlotte Jewish Foundation, The Amity Club, and Trustee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He was a Board Director of the Hebrew Union College Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem. Numerous interfaith relationships were developed and amplified when Walter accepted the regional chair of the National Conference of Christian and Jews; one of such projects was to work with the Graham family to rescue and restore the Billy Graham historical homestead.

Associated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Walter found time to fund and erect Charlotte monuments to honor Jewish Confederate soldiers. He also had a deep appreciation for God's designs; he loved expressing that through gardening. As founder of the Biblical Botanical Garden Society, Walter donated and cultivated property that featured plants of Biblical description and lore. A man of imagination, he designed exquisite multi-cultural interiors that embraced the outdoors and a designed a sustainability process that recycled rainwater collected on his home's roof for an indoor waterfall. He never stopped imagining the possibilities. Fascinated with genealogy, he researched and published 21 related families.

As a professional, Walter Klein founded The International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers and produced over 1000 documentary films that garnered over 300 domestic and international awards under the production company bearing his name. Last year, he was honored in Paris for his 50 years of contribution by the IQ membership that has grown into a robust international community representing media leaders, producers, writers across the globe. An award bearing his name is IQ's highest honor.

An avid historian, Walter found time to write and publish seven books, organize and steward North Carolina and South Carolina's first State Games under the auspices of the USOC. In recognition for contributions in his field, Walter was inducted in the UNC-Chapel Hill Hall of Fame. As Public Relations Director and Board member of the Mecklenburg County Boy Scout Council, Walter mirrored his wife's interest in scouting for American youth. Another Board Directorship included his love for Charlotte's rich history. He became a vested Trustee of the Mint Museum and the Charlotte Museum of History. And, it was a challenge to find someone who loved animals more; Walter became a Board Director of the Humane Society. Moreover, his country home featured dogs, cats, horses, peacocks, ducks, geese, swans...and plenty of wildlife---including wayward children--- left to their own devices on 54 acres.

Awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor James Martin for his extensive contributions to North Carolina, Walter went on to research and validate North Carolinians as designers of the first Declaration of Independence written 14 months prior to the Philadelphia document. He then conceived and created the American Freedom Bell erected on Charlotte Museum of History campus.

When his remote Matthews home burned, Walter raised funds to build two volunteer fire departments. It was a home that was always open. He and wife, Elizabeth, were involved with the Charlotte Exchange Student Program, the Charlotte Symphony, and managed to endorse a long list of budding North Carolina organizations. The Kleins played host to campaigns for friends Congressman Charles Jonas, Governor Kerr Scott, Governor Terry Sanford, and Senator Fred McIntyre. The welcome mat was always out for a cultural event, a worthy cause, and an inspiring voice. An accomplished violinist, he enjoyed his work with the Charlotte Symphony.

It was Freemasonry that best embodied Walter's life perspective. Elected thirty-third-degree Inspector General Honorary Mason, Walter was honored with the Joseph Montfort Medal and the Walt Disney Service Award as well as the Order of St. John for distinguished service. Faithful friends all, his fraternity has always been present. "My great friends and brothers all," he frequently remarked.

We remember Walter Klein as an exemplary son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and loyal friend... for his unceasing compassion, civility, and great capacity to share, love and teach. Predictably involved, Walter would patiently listen to everyone with an idea, leaning in, authentically eager. When there was a pause, the inevitable words were: "How can I help?" He never failed to follow through on that offer.

A service to celebrate his life will be held at 1:00 P.M. Friday, January 18, 2019 at Temple Beth El, 5101 Providence Road, Charlotte. Interment will follow in the Hebrew Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Elizabeth Goodman Klein Religious School Fund,; Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, 600 College Street, Oxford, NC 27565 or , c/o Oasis Shriners, 604 Doug Mayes Place, Charlotte, NC 28262.

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Published in Charlotte Observer on Jan. 17, 2019
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