Obituary: Michael Klein, M.D.

Grandfather, obstetrician delivered 5,000 babies, volunteer, traveler

Michael Klein died at his home in Claremont on March 4, with family at his side. He was 81 years old.

Mike was born in Boston on October 17, 1942 to parents who had fled what was then Czechoslovakia shortly before the German occupation. His father was a cabinetmaker, and his mother was, for the most part, a homemaker. The family lived a few blocks from Fenway Park, where he and his younger brother often waited outside the gate for players’ autographs. When he was 10, his family moved to the Bay Area, where he attended Alameda High School, and (the first in his family to attend college) graduated from UC Berkeley.

In 1966, while a student at UCLA Medical School, he met (and within a year he married) Deborah Sugar, with whom he would spend the rest of his life and raise three children. He completed a one year internship at Cincinnati General Hospital and a three year OB-GYN residency at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Los Angeles. He then served for two years as a physician in the U.S. Army at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The couple moved to Upland in 1975, where he started his private practice as an OB-GYN. In 2002 they moved to Claremont.

He estimated that in his 25 years as an obstetrician he delivered about 5,000 babies. In the years that followed his retirement from medical practice, he devoted himself to other pursuits. He began bird watching with the Pomona Valley Audubon Society, and served on the board for many years. He rode with the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group. He traveled with Debbie to Vietnam, Japan, China, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America, and other destinations.  He enjoyed time at the beach with his brother and sister-in-law, and annual gatherings with the extended family. And he relished being grandpa to his six grandchildren, who were greatly amused by his playful, offbeat, and mischievous ways.

“Mike had an irreverent sense of humor and almost no sense of self-importance,” his family shared. “His inquisitive mind made him eager to discuss the classes he audited at the Claremont Colleges, the plays and concerts in his and Debbie’s subscriptions, and the constant stream of books and films that filled his time in retirement. He had a talent for figuring out how things work and fixing them — busying himself with plumbing, gardening, and home improvement not only at his and Debbie’s home but also at rental properties they owned.”

He was a longtime member of Temple Beth Israel, Pomona, and a regular patron of the Claremont Public Library. “He will be remembered as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, and son, a friend to many, and – it is fair to say – something of a character,” his family added.

In his 60s, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. “He was immensely grateful for the excellent care he received for over a decade from the physicians, nurses, and staff at City of Hope,” his family said. “And his family is grateful for the tenderness Mike received at home, in his final days, from caregivers and hospice professionals.”

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Deborah; brother Herbert (Marla) of Oxnard; children Lisa (Warren Morishige) of Alameda, Joshua (Lindsay) of Moraga, and Rebecca (Max Handler) of Seattle; grandchildren Sara and Elena Morishige, Gabe and Ethan Klein, and Remy and Calvin Handler; cousins in Israel and the Czech Republic; and his nieces and nephew.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Paula Klein.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Hematology Department of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte at; or to Temple Beth Israel at, or to a charity of your choice.


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