Kleinman, Robert | Obituaries | clevelandjewishnews.com


Our beloved Robert Martin “Bobby” Kleinman died suddenly on April 25, 2022, of natural causes. His departure was very much on brand: in his final moments he held a cordless drill in his hand, wore a McGuckin’s Hardware cap on his head, and was happily preparing to tinker with his daughter’s fence.

A proud and lifelong Clevelander, Bobby was born on Aug. 25, 1941, in Cleveland Heights. He graduated from Shaker Heights High School and Cornell University with a degree in electrical engineering. After working for Reliance Electric in Cleveland, he obtained his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

While in Philadelphia, he began dating New York City resident Leslie Wilkoff, also a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, developing a lifelong passion for both Leslie and NYC. The couple married and moved to Boston, where they welcomed Judd and then Kim. By day Bobby worked for United Shoe, but he moonlighted – one time only – as an obstetrician, delivering Kim on their bathroom floor in Swampscott. While in Boston, Bobby also developed a love of sailing, an activity he pursued over 39 summers at Chautauqua Institution in New York.

Their foursome complete, the Kleinmans returned to Ohio, moving first to Toledo, where Bobby worked for Toledo Scale (part of Reliance Electric), before going home to Cleveland. There, Bobby worked for Leslie’s family’s business, S. Wilkoff & Sons, for nine years, before becoming the general manager of the Hertner Corporation in 1985. At Hertner, Bobby’s love of learning merged with his interest in technology, and he embraced the computer age, taking Hertner from ledgers to computerized software. In his final career chapter, he moved to IFS Corporation, a computer consulting firm specializing in manufacturing software.

Bobby rhymes with hobby, and he was a master of many. A skilled photographer with a talent for composition, Bobby loved the physical process of making prints in his darkroom. In addition to sailing, Bobby was a bicycle enthusiast, riding with the Western Reserve Wheelers for many years. He passed his passion for bikes to both children, who will remember him as they ride their Colorado trails. He trained for his pilot’s license and briefly flew full-scale planes, before becoming an avid model aircraft aficionado. President of the Cleveland Radio Control Club, Bobby and Judd spent hours at flight events and model plan runways. In recent years, Bobby and Leslie had taken up yoga, and he was faithful to his yoga teacher Chris. True to form, he got to know Chris’s whole family.

Bobby was a teacher at heart. His patience was legendary, except when it came to teaching Leslie anything computer-related. Throughout his life and especially in retirement, he volunteered to teach children in subjects ranging from reading and math to golf. He worked at the Shaker Youth Center, where he also served on the board, and he tutored children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. He volunteered at the Thea Bowman Center, where he mentored people completing their GEDs and seeking employment. He and Leslie spread their love of golf to many Cleveland children through First Tee Cleveland.

Bobby had a legion of family and friends who were like family. He was predeceased by his parents, Helen and Manny Kleinman; and his sister, Jane. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Leslie; his son, Judd (Amber) of Paonia, Colo.; his daughter, Kim of Longmont, Colo.; and his brother, Jimmy (Lynn) of Pepper Pike. He leaves behind his beloved nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews: Cathy (Brian) Zbanek, Zach, Brendan and Spencer, Jodi (Lee) Akst, Claire and Adam, Sarah Kleinman, and Julie Kleinman (Shawn Wood) and Otis. Bobby is also survived by his beloved chosen family, Harry and Sandy Holmes, Megan (Rob) Fellinger, Jackson, Dillon and Conner Wilson, Schuyler (Dennis) Chang, and Duncan, Maddox and Campbell. He is mourned by many and he loved you all.

Bobby spent his final weekend with Leslie, visiting their children in Colorado. Kim recently bought a house, and Bobby packed his power meter. Together with Judd, he immediately set to work rewiring the outdoor lights. Of the work that her dad did on her new house, Kim said, “Now the lights come on and the door doesn’t squeak. He blessed this place.” She may have been referring to her house, but Kim could well have been summing up Bobby’s legacy to us all.

A celebration of Bobby’s life is planned for 11 a.m. May 1 at the Holden Arboretum, 9550 Sperry Road in Kirtland. Bobby would want you to dress comfortably.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to First Tee Cleveland (3841 Washington Park Blvd., Newburgh Heights, OH 44105) and the Holden Arboretum.

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