The world will always see Andy Klein — whether it’s in a visit to a hospital, in an addict who is recovering or, most importantly, in people who act nicer to each other.
“Because he truly was a nice person,” Rabbi David Herman told the hundreds of mourners gathered at Sol Levinson Funeral Home in Pikesville on Wednesday afternoon. “And you’ll see Andy if you hear someone say, ‘Where would you like me to send a check?’ ”
Hundreds of people — ShopRite employees, colleagues, friends, people whose lives he touched — attended the hour-long service to pay tribute to Andrew Phillip Klein, 65. He was remembered as much for being a family man as he was for his philanthropy, his faith and his strong desire to help others.
After the service, Klein was buried in Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery.
His brother wanted to do things, anything, sooner rather than later, Michael Klein said.
“Andy dreamed it and we, the Klein family, and the three brothers akin to being musketeers, all joined forces to make it happen,” Klein said. “Howard did the legal and admin planning, I was lifting and pulling and Andy just kept pushing forward.”
They all worked the stores and they all fought the same battles together.
“Andy was a handful, and he kept us moving,” Klein said.
Klein’s son Marshall — who with his sister, Sarah, have taken over day-to-day operations of the store — said their father loved working with his brothers. And Marshall loved working with his dad.
“I saw him every day. It was a joy for me, and a joy for him,” Marshall said. “He was truly, truly, truly blessed to have this life.”
The biggest tribute that could be paid to Klein, Herman said, would be to emulate him, to be kind to others and to help others.
President of Klein’s Family Markets, Klein was on his way to a meeting of the National Jewish Fund in New York on Monday when the car he was in was involved in a 12-vehicle accident on Route 24 near Ring Factory Road.
Klein’s Family Markets, started by Klein’s grandparents, operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland — seven in Harford County, one in Baltimore city and one in Baltimore County.
For unknown reasons, a ShopRite tractor-trailer failed to stop for traffic backed up at the light at Ring Factory and hit numerous vehicles before coming to a stop, police said. Two cars, including one Klein was in, were pinned underneath the tractor part of the truck and all three caught fire.
A second person, 7-year-old Tripp Johnson, a second-grader at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary, also died in the crash. He was in the car with his mother, who was injured and taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She was in critical but stable condition Tuesday afternoon.
Klein was a lifelong resident of Forest Hill. He attended Harford Day School and John Carroll School and graduated from University of Maryland in 1975 with a bachelor of arts in business administration.
He has been honored by the University of Maryland for his support of the Maryland Alumni Association and as a Terps booster.
Klein was a die-hard Maryland fan, especially basketball, and he was superstitious about it, a trait he shared with his daughter, Rachel.
The two often went to games together, and before every game, she said, they had to eat Indian food. Klein would order the spiciest things on the menu, and anyone who was with them had to eat it. If they said no, Rachel said, her dad would slap a $100 bill on the table and bet them to eat it.
Rachel was a young girl tagging along with her dad to Terrapin Club dinners, where the average age, she said, was about 55 years old. While many may have wondered why she was there as they all talked shop, her dad didn’t.
“He just looked at me like, ‘That’s my girl,’ ” Rachel said.
Klein was her biggest supporter as a lacrosse player at Boston University. He attended all her games and, in the summers when her teammates would visit, he would strategize with them and tell them how to win the national championship the following year.
His favorite movie was her lacrosse highlight reel, she said, and he was known to offer to show it to people when they came over.
They had more in common than Maryland basketball and their horrible jokes, she said. He taught her important lessons.
“Watching my dad take care of every customer who came through the door, watching the way he took care of people, more than just that, the way he took care of everyone,” Rachel said. “He wasn’t always able to express it with his words, but he so genuinely wanted to make a difference, to make the world a better place, and he did that with his actions.”
“The best and first Jewish alumnus” of John Carroll, Klein supported his high school alma mater. After college he was the school’s business manager, and later funded the Holocaust study program there to teach “young students never to forget how hatred destroys and to have tolerance for others,” Michael said.
That program culminated Wednesday, as Klein was laid to rest, with the annual senior class trip to the Holocaust Museum.
At John Carroll, Klein was determined to be a football player, Michael said.
“Large in stature, a country Jew strong from Scouting and manual work at the general store, he made the JV team in ninth grade,” he said.
In 10th grade, he caught the eye of coach Jerry Gray and in 10th grade made the varsity team.
“I don’t know who was more terrified, my mother, or Coach Gray,” Michael said.
John Carroll is also where Klein developed his love for acting and Harford County lore still includes talks of his role in “The King and I” that made him a local hero.
His performance was remembered 20 years later at the school, when “The King and I” was done again.
After the performance, Marshall said, his father was brought onstage for a dance.
“Everyone here has met my father, he’s a big guy, not always the fleetest of foot,” Marshall said.
“This lovely woman dances him around the stage, people are going nuts, they’re clapping, and I’m a little embarrassed because I’m 14 … and all of a sudden he falls into the orchestra pit,” he said. “My mother, she did not miss a beat, she looked at me and [said] ‘go get your father.’ ”
After working at John Carroll, Klein joined the family business as a partner full-time with his parents, Ralph and Shirley Klein, in 1978. Together, in 1979, they moved Klein's from its historic location in old Forest Hill to its new location, a state-of-the-art 40,000-square-foot supermarket and general facility on Rock Spring Road.
The family added additional Klein's grocery stores on Main Street Bel Air in 1983, in Aberdeen in 1985, in the Festival at Bel Air in 1988, in Riverside in 1992, in Cardiff in 2003, in Jacksonville (Baltimore County) in 2004, in Parkville (Baltimore County) in 2012 and in Howard Park (Baltimore city) in 2014.
He became president of the family company in 2007 following the retirement of his father and in 2009 led Klein’s in joined Wakefern Food cooperative.
Klein and his wife Jayne were married 41 years.
He served as a member of the board of trustees and chairman of the board of the Harford Day School and as a member of the board of trustees of the John Carroll School. He was president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Jewish National Fund, and past president of the Harford Jewish Center/Temple Adas Sholom.
He was also active with the American-Israel Political Action Committee. He has served as an officer of the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation and of the Upper Chesapeake Health system. He is also a member of the NFIB.
Mr. Klein’s fingerprints were all over Harford County, Lyle Sheldon, president and CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, said.
“He gave freely of his talents, time and treasure,” Sheldon said.
He was the longest-serving board member at Upper Chesapeake between the health system and hospital boards — almost 15 years.
“He was just as supportive and passionate at our meeting two weeks ago as he was when he started,” he said.