Happy Birthday, Dad

Today my father, Martin Klein, is 83.

Here’s  a tribute to him.

Here are some statistics:

83 years old

57 years of marriage to mom

4 children,

4 children-in law

9 grandchildren

2 grand-daughters-in -law

one great-grandson and two  great grandchildren on the way

40,000 chickens

over 40 countries visited

When you ran for the office of First Selectman, in 2005, you showed us through your actions the importance of giving back. You won by 24 votes.  I remember when we gathered at the elementary school as the voting booths were opened and counts tallied. It was an exciting night and  a well-earned victory.

I found three letters written on your behalf that describe you best.

Here’s an excerpt from one:

By a former selectman:

Marty Klein’s honesty, candor and compassion will inspire well-deserved trust. His inquisitive intellect and imaginative, outside-the-box approach will give us fresh answers to nagging, unresolved problems. His boundless energy and persistence will bring new vitality to Town Hall and its employees.

I know Marty Klein can do these things because he has done them all over the world.

When Marty tackled tough projects to improve the daily lives of people in Bolivia, Poland, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, China, Mississippi and inner city Hartford I doubt that he walked in knowing every operational detail. In fact, he was there because “business as usual” had not solved the problems he was able to solve with his unique perspective.

(Lou Annino,  Sr., Killingworth, CT)

And the other I wrote:

My father, Martin Klein, carries two things in his pants pocket often more useful than his wallet: a jackknife and a handkerchief. Growing up, my siblings and I witnessed the single blade jackknife do the obvious — cut gum out of hair, slice string and tape around packages, shave bark from twigs for toasting marshmallows, unravel knots in yoyo strings and shoe laces, pare oranges, peel carrots, tighten screws on toys and my mother’s pots, fix parts of lawnmowers, and repair farm machinery and car engines. Likewise, his handkerchief, freshly ironed and white, was equally useful. There’d always be a clean spot for blowing noses, wiping faces and hands, drying tears, checking the oil, cleaning up spills, wrapping a cut, and polishing an apple.

For my father, these two items resemble a portable tool chest. They represent the epitome of the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” For my father, an Eagle Scout, being prepared has been his creed throughout his professional and personal life. These simple tools represent how he can do a lot with a little, how he’s resourceful and compassionate, and how he’s prepared for any challenge he faces.

And by two of his grandsons, Jacob, then 20,  and Nathan Winkler, then 18:

(Note: Dad ran in 2007 as an independent with his former opponent, forming the “Progressive Party.” They didn’t win.)

Our grandfather, Martin Klein, was and still is a reminder to us always of the high quality people that have been dubbed “the greatest generation”. Behind the blunt sense of humor that we’re sure the people of Killingworth were able to see during our grandfather’s first term, is someone who we have always looked up to with awe.

Grandpa’s father moved to this country when he was 16 years old with no English or money. His son, Martin, grew up during the Depression and the Second World War. When we think on how he worked his way out of the poverty he was born into and went on to build a prosperous egg business, send 4 children to college, be actively involved in local and national government issues, travel to six continents with Peace Corps helping the less fortunate, we’re overwhelmed by his insatiable need to make people’s lives better regardless of the sacrifice that is might entail.

Our grandfather is from the generation of people that built this country and we know he has the wisdom, drive, and desire to help people that will make Killingworth a great place to live.


Happy Birthday, Dad!


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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9 Responses to Happy Birthday, Dad

  1. Nathan says:

    Wow! No pressure on the rest of us!


  2. This is from a friend who emailed me: The one about your dad was moving to me because I lost my dad in December, and your dad has a lot of qualities that my dad did—resourcefulness and dedication to family. My dad always carried a white handkerchief too. He also had other simple solutions to a lot of everyday problems.
    I should have commented on the blog, I guess, but email is easier. Next time.


  3. Margaret C says:

    I like it, Lisa. Looking forward to more! Aside: the pocket knife. My dad ALWAYS carried one, too. David & Mike, who never met him, were shocked: why would he carry a KNIFE? What for? Well, for everything. I always carried one, too (a tiny lady’s knife that was my Connecticut g’ma’s), till TSA came along. Happy days to all! ♥ M


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