Obituary: James Austin Klein
February 11, 1931 – May 9, 2021
James Austin Klein, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, passed away on Sunday, May 9, 2021. Born on February 11, 1931, in Queens, New York, to the late Sally and Bernard Klein, Jim was a true Renaissance man. He is survived by his loving wife Dorothy, of Mount Pleasant, SC, and his daughters Wendy of Greenville, NC, Cindy Saturno [Jim] of Silver Spring, MD, Dana Gisiano [Phil] Kingston, NY, Nicole Jandrucko [Scott] Wakefield, Rhode Island, and Kendell Munzer [Peter] of Mount Pleasant, SC. Jim is also survived by twelve grandchildren: Jessie, Rachel [Will], Gregory [Jill], Bryan [Lindsey], Tony, Billy, Allyn, Danny, Austin, Kaitlyn, Hayden, and Owen. Jim will also be mourned by a multitude of friends from around the world.
Jim was a life-long adventurer. At the age of 16, he obtained his pilot’s license before he could legally drive a car and flew well into his eighties. By 17, he’d set off for a semester at the University of Alaska, and then worked as a field hand for United Geo Physical. When his time in the Northern Frontier was done, he became one of the first “Easy Riders,” motorcycling cross-country back to New York on his Harley Davidson.
In 1950, Jim enlisted in the U.S Navy and became one of the original Navy Seals, or UDT divers, as they were called back then. The Underwater Demolition Team was a group of elite underwater divers who possessed true grit, stamina, and unparalleled determination. After the Navy, Jim continued his passion for scuba diving all around the world; from the coral reefs of the Bahamas to hammerhead shark diving in the Galapagos.
In 1953 Jim married the late Helen Danilin, and together they had three daughters, Wendy, Cindy, and Dana. In 1956, Jim moved his family to Poughkeepsie, New York, to begin his career in construction and real estate. Many friends questioned his moving to the “boonies” where very little building was going on, but Jim was a visionary and a risk-taker. That risk paid off with the boom of IBM. Jim had perfectly timed his career and went on to develop much of Dutchess and Putnam counties in New York.
In 1968, after his first marriage ended, Jim married the love of his life, Dorothy Vogel. They had two girls, Nicole and Kendell. Jim and Dorothy lived a life many only dream of, traveling to every continent and throughout most countries in the world. In 1985, Jim was accepted into the Explorers Club. Dorothy was as adventurous as Jim; whether it was hiking the Swiss Alps so Jim could climb the Matterhorn, scuba diving in the Arctic or riding a camel in Morocco, Jim and Dorothy were inseparable in their adventures.
In 1971, Jim moved his family to Garrison, New York, where they lived on the marsh of the Hudson River for over 40 years. When Jim wasn’t working or traveling he could be found skiing the back bowls of Vail, puttering around his houses fixing anything and everything, wandering every isle of the Container Store, Hammachler Schlemmer, and Costco, boating, reading Sotheby’s and Christies catalogs like novels, or watching the History channel. Jim was also an avid collector of a multitude of antiques. His collections included Hudson River School paintings, Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass, early American period furniture, wooden canes and Bowie Knives; to name a few. Self-taught, Jim was a leader in the antique world and never failed to amaze his family and friends with his extensive knowledge.
Jim was in a league of his own — he was an indominable force to all that knew him and a man not easily forgotten. If you listen closely on a clear day, we’re sure a faint, gruff voice can be heard stating, “N77JD coming in for a landing…”
Services will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, mourners are encouraged to make donations to the following charities: Save The Children: Native American Children, 4Ocean, The Alzheimer’s Association.