Joseph Frank Klein, III, 87, of Butler, PA, formerly of North Hills, Pittsburgh, died July 20, 2021, at Good Samaritan Hospice in Cabot.
Born September 12, 1933, in his three-generation family home in Shaler Township, Allegheny County, he was the son of Joseph F. Klein, Jr. and Elnora Reeg Klein. Joe was especially close to his grandparents, “Pup” and “Gram” Reeg, whose words of wisdom guided him throughout his entire life. He spent his childhood working with his great aunts and uncles around their “truck garden” family farm, riding along to deliver produce to the Strip District. Joe was also kept busy before and after school, working at neighboring Bartsch Greenhouse, (beginning at age 7) and selling flower bouquets on the streets (!) of Pittsburgh. Joe claimed that throughout grade school he daydreamed too much to be a good student, but this creative, energetic, affable boy was happy and well-liked; at age 12, he was proud to win a Peterson School of Penmanship Award. He graduated in 1951 from Shaler High, where he was elected senior class vice president. Throughout high school, Joe was a member of the Chapel Choir, Glee Club, President of the Red Cross Club, Stage Crew, and Monitor. He had roles in several plays and musicals, earning a Thespians Honorable Mention Award for outstanding acting. Joe was an excellent roller and ice skater, using this athletic ability to become a proficient hockey player; as young teen, he played on the Pittsburgh Hornets’ youth team. Although Joe began as a business major at the University of Pittsburgh, he was more interested in his geology and hydrology courses, and ultimately received a diploma in 1952 for mechanical and production tool design from Dravosburg Technical Institute. While at Pitt, Joe was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, where he helped maintain order as the “house mother’s” aide. He was then hired by General Electric Corporation in Schenectady, NY (living at the local YMCA); part of his job was to test airplane controls in subzero temperatures. But after only a few years, Joe missed his close-knit family and friends too much, so he moved back home. This is when he joined his grandfather and older brother in the family water well drilling and pump repair business, Reeg & Klein Brothers. In 1956, he met and fell in love with Margie Kahn, and after three short months, they quietly eloped and were married at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Venus, PA. Their dream to live in the country came true in 1963 when they moved with their 2 little girls to an old-fashioned farm in Clearfield Township, Butler County, where they added another daughter several years later. Despite drilling water wells and servicing pumps for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, Joe started raising sheep, and at one point, had a flock of more than 100 Cheviot sheep and lambs. After several years, he switched to raising American Dexter beef cattle; when this endeavor proved more trouble than it was worth, Joe pulled out of big-time farming once and for all. Joe continued working as a “pump man” until he had a minor heart attack on the way to a job one day, which finally persuaded him to retire at age 75. Folks who lived between Great Belt and Valencia may have known Joe as the “beep-beep guy” or the “waving man”, since he honked the horn on his little yellow truck (or later, brown truck, then blue truck) and waved greetings to everyone he saw along his way to work each day. One of his most memorable qualities was his friendly manner with everybody he encountered, whether adult or child, stranger or acquaintance, person or pet.
Upon retirement, Joe began volunteering full time at St. Luke Lutheran School and Church in many capacities over the next decade, including first grade student aide, confirmation class mentor, church greeter/usher, field trip chaperone, worship setup team, trustee, school janitor/handyman, Red Cross blood drive coordinator, kitchen crew, chief coffee maker, AAL president, Sunday School assistant, school doorman/greeter, snow shoveler, whatever was needed. In 2000, Joe was awarded the Samaritan of the Year Award from Samaritan Counseling Center for his volunteering activities. Being a humble man who avoided the spotlight, Joe was both appreciative and mortified while receiving this honor. He and Marge also spent a lot of time visiting with many people at Concordia and in the community.
Joe was an interesting, humorous storyteller, incorporating a great memory and fun sound effects, especially about “things that aren’t there anymore”; he could tell you the location and depth of most of the hundreds of wells he drilled. We especially loved hearing the many stories from his growing-up years among his close-knit extended family. His lifelong love of singing and whistling led him to join the St. Luke Adult Choir as a tenor; he loved listening to old-time country and gospel musicians, especially Johnny Cash, George Jones, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, and all the singing cowboys. Like the rest of the men in his family, Joe was a lifelong hunter, harvesting his fair share of deer and small game in 70 years. He was not a big sports fan, but Joe did root for the Steelers as long as they were winning. Joe was a loyal, trustworthy friend who actually listened to people and helped any way he could. Although he never experienced material wealth, Joe never yearned for more—“had everything he needed”; in truth, he was richly respected and appreciated and loved by everyone who knew him.
Surviving are his wife of 64 years, Marjorie, at Concordia Lutheran Ministries, Cabot; his daughters, Susan Ambrose of Cabot, Sharon (Dale) Ambrose of Butler, and Beth Byers of Butler; his brother, George D. Klein (Patricia) of Valencia; his grandsons, Joseph (Carolina) Ambrose, Mark (Amanda) Ambrose of Cabot, Lee (Anne) Ambrose, Jed and Hank Ambrose, all of Fenelton; his great-grandchildren, Dylan, Alexandra, Walter, Isaac, Eli, and Lydia; his sister-in-law, Carol Stauffer, of Allison Park; his brother-in-law, Richard Stauffer, of Gibsonia; his brother-in-law, Warren Kahn, of Florida; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his younger sister, Emilie Federkeil on April 16, 2021. In addition to his sister, Joe was also preceded in death by his son-in-law Ron Byers (03/08/16) and many good friends.
His family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Concordia Lutheran Ministries for the loving care and support they gave to all of us during Father’s short stay and Mother’s many years there. His brief time at Good Samaritan Hospice was also a true blessing to our family.
Friends will be received on Friday, July 23, 2021 from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Fox Funeral Home, Inc., 410 W. Main Street, Saxonburg.
Additional visitation will be held on Saturday, July 24, 2021 from 10-11:30 am at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Cabot.
A funeral service will follow at 11:30 am with Rev. Ben Berteau officiating.
Interment will follow in St. Luke Cemetery.
Memorial Donations may be made to the St. Luke Lutheran Church and School 330 Hannahstown Road Cabot, PA 16023
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