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Jerome Klein

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After a long illness, Jerome Klein passed away peacefully at the Norwalk Hospital on October 4, 2009.

A long time resident of Norwalk, Jerry, as he was known by everyone, was born on January 16, 1930, in Bronx, N.Y. to Jack and Lillian Klein. A graduate of Stamford High School in 1947, he attended Pace University and then served in the United States Army for two years. Upon completion of his tour in the army, he followed his passion for business, working for a beauty supply company.

After he married Arlene Saperstein of Norwalk he vigorously and enthusiastically pursued his career with Arlene in the toy business at Kiddytown where it originally was located on West Ave. They eventually bought the business after it moved to Wall Street where it became a beloved institution in Norwalk. Kiddytown grew and flourished for the 40 years it operated until the Kleins closed the business in 1995. Called “The Real Santa Claus”' by Richard Fuller, the former director of the Carver Center, Jerry and his wife gave thousands of toys each holiday season to the likes of the Norwalk Community Health Center, The Norwalk and Stamford Police Departments, The Vitam Center, The George Washington Carver Foundation and Americares. “There wouldn't have been a Christmas in Norwalk for a lot of poor kids if it hadn't been for the generosity of the Kleins,” Mr. Fuller had said some years ago.

In addition to his seven day a week schedule of owning and operating a business, Jerry found time to serve the community in many ways. He served on the board of directors for the Carver Center, Vitam, Norwalk Community College, Temple Shalom and the Jewish Home for the Elderly.

He served as a commissioner for the Norwalk Transit District, was an active member for a number of years on the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Governor's Select Committee for the Connecticut State Lottery Commission. Jerry worked closely with the Norwalk Police Department on their “Toys for Guns Program” which encouraged people to turn in their guns for toys. Most recently, he served as President of Beth Israel Synagogue of Westport/Norwalk.

A vibrant and dynamic man, Jerry enjoyed spending time playing poker with his buddies, having an animated political discussion, or traveling to far off places; Jerry was in love with life. As much as he loved being a businessman and helping the community, his greatest love was his family. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Arlene, three daughters, Helene Rosenthal and husband Ken, Lesley Cooper and husband Ron and their children, Jerry's grandchildren, Jacob, Julie and Charlotte, and Michelle Holman and her husband Craig, and a brother Morton Klein of Stamford.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, at Beth Israel Synagogue of Westport/Norwalk, located at 40 King St., Norwalk, at 1:00 p.m. The family will be receiving guests after the service and on Wednesday & Thursday evenings, October 7 & 8 from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Donations can be made to the Jerome L. Klein Hebrew School Children's Fund of Beth Israel Synagogue, 40 King Street, Norwalk, CT 06851 (203) 866-0531. To view or leave condolences, please visit www.collisfh.com.

Published in The Hour on Oct. 6, 2009
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