In Memoriam: Bert Warren Kleiner (Oct. 4, 1928 – May 30, 2022)

September 2022 Posted in Obituary

Bert Warren Kleiner, 93, passed over peacefully on May 30 surrounded by family members in Mount Angel, Oregon, where his wife Sonia said, “Bert has gone home to be with the Lord.” He was born on Oct. 4, 1928 in Portland, Oregon, to parents who had immigrated from Europe – a German father and a Finnish mother. They relocated to Klamath Falls, Oregon, when Bert was a young boy, later returning to Portland, where Bert’s father worked as a pastry baker and his mother was a clerk in a grocery store.

Bert attended Roosevelt High School (1946) in Portland, then Western Oregon College in Monmouth, where he earned bachelor’s degree in elementary education. It was at Western Oregon that he met Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Sheehan, who was also studying to become a teacher, and to whom he was married for 43 years.

Before marrying Betty, Bert spent a summer in Alaska, helping to survey the route for the ALCAN Highway. Bert served for two years in U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War. Bert and Betty started their teaching careers on the southern Oregon coast, living outside the small town of Langlois, before relocating to a 12-acre farm near Lookingglass, Oregon, near Roseburg, where Bert was director of instruction and principal of the Dillard Elementary School for eight years. Bert attended graduate school at the University of Oregon, almost earning his doctorate in education. Eventually, Bert became superintendent of the elementary schools in Silverton in 1970, where he served for 17 years, including as president of the Oregon Association of School Executives.

In 1995, Betty was killed in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. Bert met Sonia Cook on a blind date, and they married on July 1, 1997, spending time traveling in their RV and rock-hounding. Bert and Sonia shared almost 25 years of marriage, with Sonia taking good care of Bert right up until his final day.

Bert loved nature and the outdoors and made sure his family always lived in rural settings near a creek. One of his lifelong dreams was to return to Alaska, which he did several times, including during a trip with his sons and sons-in-law in 2014. He realized another life dream, when he built a log cabin near a spring on family land. Bert always taught his children and grandchildren to follow their dreams in this life, and to not to pursue careers just for financial reasons. He and Betty took their family on long backpacking trips into the remote wilderness areas of Oregon. He loved the outdoors and passed that love along to his children and grandchildren.

Bert was preceded in death by his brother Harold Kleiner, his sister Clara Pullin, his first wife Betty Kleiner, and his son-in-law Jeff Schmidt. He is survived by his wife Sonia, Bert’s five children, Jeff Kleiner (Theresa), Gregg Kleiner (Lori Salus), Lori Schmidt, Julie Johnson (Chris), and Brad, along with 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and Sonia’s three daughters, Jenny, Dana and Natalie.

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