When Andy Klein saw a problem, he got it fixed. He either did it himself or rallied the community to do it. The business executive was behind Harford County getting a new hospital in Bel Air 20 years ago, Temple Adas Shalom being renovated, the Senator Bob Hooper House being built and the new Upper Chesapeake Behavioral Health Center.
Mr. Klein was one of two persons killed in a crash on Route 24 Monday. He was 65 and lived in Forest Hill.
“Andy wasn’t a slick motivational speaker, but he was totally sincere, totally committed. You picked up on it and felt moved to join his causes,” said Rabbi Gila Ruskin of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace.
Mr. Klein was president of Klein’s Family Markets, the company that operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland: seven in Harford County, one in Baltimore County and another in Baltimore City.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Harford County, Andrew Klein was the son of Ralph Klein, who worked in the family grocery business, and his wife, Shirley. Mr. Klein’s grandparents founded the food market in Fallston in 1925.
He attended Harford Day School and was a 1971 graduate of John Carroll High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In 2018 Mr. Klein raised more than $80,000 for Boy Scouts in Harford County.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the Scouting program,” he said at a banquet honoring his philanthropy. “I firmly believe in what Scouting does for young men, and soon to be young women.”
Rachel Klein of Baltimore said her dad was pretty special.
“He was just irreplaceable. He’s an incredible father, an incredible brother, an incredible son,” she said. “He did and gave everything to anyone that needed anything.”
She said that she and her siblings grew up with their father at the store, watching him work.
Rachel Klein learned from her father that making an impact on the community is the most important thing.
“That, and family,” she said.
Mr. Klein and his wife, the former Jayne Zion, were married for 41 years — they were introduced by her grandparents and met on a blind date.
Family members said that Mr. Klein was on his way to a meeting in New York of the Jewish National Fund, an organization he was very passionate about, she said.
“Whatever he did, he put his whole heart into it,” said his wife, a dietician. “I think he left a great legacy — that’s the best thing a person can do.”
Mr. Klein’s family were founders of Havre de Grace’s Temple Adas Shalom.
“That was a big important part of Andy, because throughout his life he felt he was called upon to carry on the legacy of his parents in many ways, including support of so many institutions of Harford County,” said Rabbi Ruskin. “The Jewish community was one of those.”
He was a donor to his temple and financially assisted in its renovation, which included new classrooms, a refurbished sanctuary and a new parking lot, as well as new flooring and lighting. He also motivated others to donate, the rabbi said.
Mr. Klein was known for his philanthropy, involvement in charities and his singing voice, said Jeremy Diamond, a Baltimore-based food retailing consultant and director of Diamond Marketing Group.
“It’s a great loss to the business community and the grocery community and to Harford County,” Diamond said. “He really put down his roots there and … provided jobs for thousands of people in his stores. He’s going to be missed.”
Klein’s Family Markets joined New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp., which distributes food to member stores from New Hampshire to Virginia, in 2008 and began operating under the ShopRite banner the following year.
Mr. Klein was a member of the Upper Chesapeake Health board and vice chair of the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation.
He played a role in helping get the Senator Bob Hooper House, Harford County’s first hospice facility, and the Harford Crisis Center, a newly opened facility to treat mental health and opioid addiction issues, up and running.
Friends said Mr. Klein had a dry sense of humor.
“I guess it depends how well he knew you. With me, who I’ve known for a long time, he was very good with me, very open with me, very honest with me,” said Tony Meoli, a Harford County business owner. “And when he would tell jokes, whether they were funny or not, you laughed.”
During his time at John Carroll High School, Mr. Klein played football and lacrosse for four years. He also performed in Glee Club and school plays.
Friends said he brought Holocaust programming to the school nearly 25 years ago. Through his own philanthropy and his family’s foundation, the John Carroll senior class will visit the Holocaust Museum. Mr. Klein received the school’s 1985 Riepe Award, its highest honor for an alumnus.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Sol Levinson and Brothers, 8900 Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills.