Stewart Edward Klein died quietly at his home in Washington Depot, CT on July 4, 2020. He was 91.
Stewart was born in Yonkers, NY, the son of Frederick Klein and Lena Becker Klein. He was a graduate of the Barnard School in Riverdale, NY, where he met his wife of nearly 67 years, Leila Larsen, who attended the neighboring school. A gifted athlete, Stewart was recruited by the legendary University of Kentucky basketball program; however, he ultimately decided to attend the University of Missouri, where he graduated with a degree in Geology. He was accepted into the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School and served bravely in combat with the 101st Airborne Division, often operating behind enemy lines, during the Korean Conflict. He completed his military service at the rank of 1st Lieutenant and was awarded the Bronze Star, in addition to other commendations. He was a great patriot with a strong love of the American flag, making it a fitting tribute that he died on Independence Day.
Upon his return home, he and Leila lived in New York City before settling in Harrison, NY. He joined his father-in-law’s business, in lieu of pursuing a career as a geologist, where he worked for the remainder of his life. He was the long-time President of Sanitized, Inc., a global anti-microbial company, based in New York City and New Preston, CT. In addition to being a natural and successful salesman, he held numerous patents for compounds he developed. He was a genuine entrepreneur and his mind constantly brimmed with new ideas, which he pursued with unlimited enthusiasm. At Sanitized, he traveled the world with his partner, Daniel Luthi of Switzerland, who was his greatest friend for over 50 years.
Stewart was an avid tennis player and skier; he loved hot air ballooning and sky dove in his 70’s. However, he was happiest on his tractors in the fields of his farm; he loved physical work, which he pursued into his 80’s. He was known to many in the Washington area as “Lake Waramaug Stu”, and for many years grew pumpkins for the benefit of the Washington Fire Department. He never set a price for the pumpkins he sold off the back of his tractor; rather he would chat at length with each customer and encourage them to make as large a donation as possible to the firemen.
Stewart’s greatest priority was his family, particularly his wife Leila, his children, their spouses and grandchildren, who called him “Poppy”, and to his nieces and nephews. His generosity towards them knew no bounds and he would gladly give them the very shirt off his back. But mostly, he gave them his undivided attention and interest and his unquestioned love. He was a regular and enthusiastic attendee of his grandchildren’s athletic and other school events. He was also deeply interested in the lives of his children’s friends as they grew up, such that his passing is profoundly mourned by dozens whose lives he impacted.
Stewart is survived by his wife, Leila Larsen Klein, his daughter, Lisa Klein Boldt and her husband, Michael Boldt and by his son, Michael F. Klein and his wife, Leelee Smith Klein. He is also survived by his five grandchildren: Ian and Alden Boldt and Molly, Grace and Larsen Klein, as well as by his nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his sister, Helen Sandhaus and his brother Alan Klein.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Washington Volunteer Fire Department, 109 Bee Brook Road Washington Depot, CT. 06794
As a consequence of the novel coronavirus, burial will be private, and the family will hold a memorial service at a later date.