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Life Story / Obituary
With determination and boundless generosity, Joel Roger Klein lived a humble life rich in family and friendship. Joel never met a stranger; he welcomed everyone into his heart and embraced all people as friends. He was genuinely interested in others and often proved the kind heart that was needed. With deep affection and a quick wit, he could inspire a smile in even the most curmudgeonly person. A devoted father and grandfather, Joel cherished his family and loved nothing more than sharing time in their good company. Revered by many, Joel will long be remembered by those who were blessed to know him.
As war gave way to peace and civil rights became a dramatic force in U.S. history, 1952 marked a period of progress and optimism. With the birth of the Baby Boom generation, the focus was on hard work and affording our children a better life. The middle-class standard of living continued to grow and appeared to have no boundaries; it was a time of much hope. Nowhere was there greater cause to celebrate the possibilities of hope than in the hearts and home of Martin and Rose Klein as they welcomed their son Joel on February 1, in Grand Rapids MI.
Growing up in West Michigan during the 50s and 60s, Joel enjoyed a childhood centered in the values of hard work, family, and a love of the outdoors. Along with his three older brothers, Dennis, Steve, Robert, and three younger siblings, Diane, Daniel, and Cindy Joel learned these values from his parents. While their father provided for the family as a truck driver, their mother was a homemaker and a nurse. Together, they raised their family with faith and tradition, encouraging each of their endeavors.
Joel’s early education at the local elementary school was followed by his attendance at Union High School where he competed on the swim team. He also learned to hunt as a youth. Both swimming and hunting became lifelong loves Joel continued to pursue for the rest of his life.
After graduating from high school with the class of 1970, Joel took classes for a time at Grand Rapids Junior College while working as a house painter. He possessed an insatiable thirst to learn. As a result, he naturally embraced the world with a sense of curiosity and determination.
In time, Joel took a job as a truck driver. This proved to be a fantastic fit, and it ultimately became his profession. Over the course of his career, Joel worked both statewide and interstate driving. For the past 18 years, he worked for Dayton Freight.
Joel made his home on Webster Street where he enjoyed tending his yard. He took great care in planting flowers throughout the yard and always corn by the stop sign in front of his house. He grew delicious vegetables which often took center stage in the fabulous meals he made. An accomplished cook, Joel’s baked chicken and jasmine rice, pork chops, pork and beef roasts were unrivaled. He was always looking for a deal at Ralph’s Market or Frank’s Market where he often shopped.
A man who valued the simple things in life, Joel loved watching nature shows on PBS, anything on the History Channel, reruns of The Three Stooges and Tales From the Crypt. He was an unwavering Detroit Lions fan and Saturdays were about college football. If the radio was on it was either tuned into classical music, the oldies, or classic rock. Joel enjoyed searching for new treasure at estate sales and was often on the lookout for the next big deal. Joel also enjoyed exploring different beers. Craft beers were his favorite, but he also enjoyed German lagers and IPA’s. Hunting and tinkering at his property in Barry County was a favorite pastime as was enjoying a good nap when he could take one.
Though work and home were pleasurable for Joel, nothing filled his heart as fatherhood did. Joel was blessed to have two daughters, Holly and Julie. The girls were his joy, and he was a proud father. He did his very best to be a good dad and support them in each of their endeavors. As his daughters grew and began families of their own, Joel was blessed to become a grandfather. Adrian, Noah, and Michaela were his heart’s delight, and he treasured sharing time with them.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Joel experienced severe chest pain last week. After calling his daughter and he went to the emergency room where he was diagnosed as having a heart attack. There Joel underwent surgery, and a couple stents were placed to correct the problem. While recovering in the hospital this morning, without warning, he collapsed and died.
Clearly, Joel’s unexpected departure has left us stunned. It is difficult to imagine life without Joel’s infectious smile, welcoming ways, and steadfast presence. As we begin to grapple with the reality of his absence, may it afford deep comfort to know that with each walk in the woods we take, warm hello we extend to someone new, buck we stalk, and thoughtful gift we give, we are living the best of Joel’s legacy. In so doing, we keep his spirit alive in our hearts and lives where it will continue to ripple out and inspire others as he so inspired us.
Joel R Klein, aged 66, of Grand Rapids, passed away unexpectedly on November 19, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Rose Klein. He is survived by his daughters, Holly Klein, Julie (Jacob) VanderStarre; grandchildren, Adrian and Noah VanderStarre, and Michaela; his siblings; Dennis (Nancy) Klein, Steve Klein, Robert (Pam) Klein, Daniel (Julie) Klein, Diane McNellis, Cindy Klein; many nieces, nephews and friends. Joel worked for 15 years as a truck driver for Dayton Freight. He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. A service to celebrate Joel’s life will be held on Saturday, November 24 at 10:00 am at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Chapel Hill Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family at the funeral home on Friday, Nov. 23 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, and again on Saturday from 9:00 am until the service begins at 10:00 am. To read more about Joel’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com