Pennsylvania's 25th Lieutenant Governor, Ernest P. Kline, passed peacefully into Eternal Rest on May 13, 2009, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. A staunch Catholic, Democrat and Steeler fan, Ernie was born on June 20, 1929, to the late Elna Natali Kline and Allen J. Kline in Allentown PA. Raised in Webster PA, he became known as "Chief." Always the organizer and leader of every group in which he was involved, Ernie served as Class President and starting quarterback for his Rostraver High School graduating class of 1947. After attending Duquesne University for a brief time, he began a career in radio news broadcasting in 1948 in Charleroi, PA, with stops in Connellsville and Kittanning. In Kittanning, he met his wife Josephine. Together, they moved to Beaver Falls PA, where he worked at WBVP until 1967. It was there that he, along with the help of his wife Jo, began a long and storied journey in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. In addition to politics, Ernie was involved in every aspect of civic life in Beaver Falls and the life of his longtime parish, St. Mary's. Whether helping with the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast or quietly assisting those in need with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Ernie lived the motto of The Christophers, "It is better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness." Ernie truly believed in the phrase "public servant" and worked tirelessly for the people of the Commonwealth of PA. He began service in 1955 as a councilman in the City of Beaver Falls and continued as an appointed member of the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority. In 1961, Governor David L. Lawrence appointed Ernie as a Workers' Compensation Referee for Beaver, Washington and Greene counties. Ernie was elected to the State Senate and began service in 1965 as the Senator from the 47th district. In August 1967, his legislative Democratic colleagues elected him floor leader, the youngest person to hold that post. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1970, moved his family to Lebanon County and served with Milton J. Shapp. In that role he served as presiding officer of the Senate, Chairman of the Board of Pardons, CoChairman of the National Bicentennial Commission, Chairman of the Governor's Commission on Basic Education, and Chairman of the Energy Council. After leaving public life in 1979, he was president of Kline Associates Ltd., a government-consulting business currently run by his children, Monica and John. Again, he pursued many volunteer projects, including the establishment of the Ronald McDonald House of the Hershey Medical Center, served as Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Lebanon County and umpired Palmyra Borough girls' softball. Ernie was predeceased by his parents, loving brother Allen, and cherished nephew Mark. He leaves his wife Josephine with whom he would have celebrated 60 years of marriage in June; brother William and wife Kathy of Madison, Wis., a host of relatives and friends across the Commonwealth and his seven children: Patricia Kline Just and husband Fred (Pittsburgh); the Honorable Samuel A. "Gus" Kline and wife Ann (Lebanon); Michael Kline (Harrisburg); John Kline and wife Monica Krammer Kline (Reading); Vincent Kline and wife Jennifer Lauck Kline (Harrisburg); Myra Ann Taylor (Harrisburg); Monica Kline and husband Dennis Balbac (Myerstown). His grandchildren, who were so precious to him, are Gregory Kline, Adrienne Kline Cummings and husband Christopher, Audrey Kline Farrell and husband Joseph, Andrew Kline (currently serving our country in Iraq), Abby Kline, Paul Kline and wife Kristen Crimbring Kline, Anthony Kline, Lauren E. Kline, Carolyn E. Just, Kevin V. Kline, Thomas E. Kline, Kathryn J. Taylor. To all of us he left a legacy of faith, commitment to fearlessly defending one's beliefs while respectfully listening to dissenting views, a love of the English language, viewing life with hope, and treating every person with respect. Visitors may greet the family at Rothermel Funeral Home, S. Railroad & Pine Streets, Palmyra PA from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, May 15. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to United Way of Lebanon County, 801 Cumberland Street, Lebanon, PA 17042 The Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Saturday, May 16, at 10 AM at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Palmyra, by longtime family friend Msgr. Thomas Smith of St. Joseph Parish, Lancaster PA and assisted by the Rev. Jim Podlesny, O.S.B., pastor of Church of the Holy Spirit. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may the Perpetual Light shine upon him.
Published by Lebanon Daily News on May 15, 2009.