Art Klein, a Montana military icon, passed peacefully from this world to that in which he sees his Savior face to face on Tuesday, April 16, while his daughter Janet held his hand and sang to him. He is survived by his wife, Louise; his children, Dick, Mary, Janet, Joanie, Jack; 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. His legacy is considerable.
Born in Alberta, Canada, to Frank and Dora Klein, he was one of nine children. Raised during the Depression, he rode the rails across Canada from age 14 in order to help provide for his family. Joining his brother for work in Spokane, Wash., he joined the Marines in 1940, eventually finding his way to Wake Island where he would courageously fight and ultimately be taken captive by the Japanese. He survived 44 months of horrific captivity, returning to the U.S. in 1945 and settling in Riverton, Wyo., where he would meet his first wife, Aillene. They married in 1947 and raised five children together before Aillene’s passing in 1999, logging 52 years together. Along the way, Art successfully ran seven businesses, culminating with Rainmaker Sprinkling and Trenching and D and R Sign Company, retiring in 1983. After Aillene’s passing, he married Louise Sandback of Broadview who would be his faithful friend and companion, traveling around the world, serving in the DAV Auxiliary, and bouncing the great-grandchildren on their knees.
Art was a faithful volunteer in his community commanding Disabled American Veterans Chapter 10 multiple times, driving countless thousands of miles to take veterans to various VA hospitals in the state, leading a History-of-Our-American-Flag program throughout the area for many years. He served as a trustee and greeter at Evangelical United Methodist Church. He was a faithful member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis, the Al Bedoo Shrine, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart where he served as adjutant until his death. His story of military service is included in the Oral History of the United States and has been read into the permanent Congressional Record. He served as representative of the state of Montana at the unveiling of the World War II Memorial in our Nation’s capital.
On the occasion of his execution, William Wallace is reputed to have said, “All men die, but not all men truly live.” Art Klein truly lived, and his legacy continues in the family he loved and sacrificed for so deliberately.
Funeral service at Evangelical United Methodist Church, 345 Broadwater Ave., at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, April 20. In lieu of flowers, please support our troops and donate to the Veterans’ organization of your choice.