Monday, March 18, 2013

A Tribute To VPR Volunteer Howard Klein

Howard "Howie" Klein, a volunteer for nearly 30 years at Vermont Public Radio, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 6th.  His friend, Victoria St. John, was at his side. He was 85.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Howie settled in the Burlington, Vermont area in the 1980s. In retirement, he found a community of friends as a volunteer at VPR, where he came in daily to process membership donations, do the crossword puzzle, and to harass the staff in the most endearing way imaginable. His friends at VPR shared these remembrances:

“I can't think of a more dedicated volunteer than Howard Klein. Every day for 29 years, he opened our mail, processed checks, stuffed envelopes, and gave us a hard time. We were family to him, and he was definitely a member of the VPR family. He worked along side early VPR visionaries such as Ray Dilley and Ray Phillips, he saw decades of staff members come and go, and he witnessed VPR's public service expansion first hand.  Over the years he insisted that we double his salary every year or so, which was easy to do since he was volunteering his time.  He will be dearly missed.” -Robin Turnau

Howie was the only person at VPR
with his own parking space.
“I fell in love with Howard when I discovered he is a dog person and he gave me his daily dog calendar from the previous year so I could decorate my workspace with dog photos.  I remember how much he hated for me to hug or kiss him - but he warmed up to it very quickly and would even stand still for it and smile. Thanks Howard, for your cute hairy ears. I will miss you.” -Franny Bastian

“He was a uniquely charming curmudgeon. Something about his crankiness was endearing. Perhaps because he was so willing to freely speak what the rest of us sometimes think and feel - and censor.” -Cody Fiala

“Soon after I began working at VPR in 2002, I discovered that I very likely had some Jewish heritage. This pleased Howie, who called me one of the Chosen People, although he took that back whenever he felt like it and called me a "shiksa," or "meshuggina." To prove myself I made him a kugel for Hanukkah one year, and I will never forget the joy on his face. He hugged me, and he HATED hugging. I made him one every Hanukkah from there on out.” -Michelle Jeffery

“Howard Klein was like a father to me, and I loved him unconditionally because god knows he could be a royal P.I.T.A.! But I was still glad to see him come through the front door at VPR every day. Who will I share my love of Yiddish and old NYC stories with now? There’s a hole in my heart named “Howard, you need a haircut”, “Yes Howard, life IS a bowl of cherries”, “Howard, you’re a nice man” to which he would reply, “I know”. There can never be another you.” -Ty Robertson

“Howard set a refreshingly high standard as Station Curmudgeon, which I will do my best to emulate. His interest in crossword puzzles reflected a bright and curious thirst for knowledge, and we would often commiserate when unable to decipher the Sunday NY Times puzzle theme. Doing the puzzle will now be a lonelier experience.” -Neal Charnoff

Howard Klein promised his handsome remains to UVM’s medical school therefore no services will be held. Instead, please join a celebration of Howard’s life and favorite foods on Saturday, April 13, 2013, 12:00 p.m. at VPR, 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT. Please RSVP to Ty Robertson at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Howard’s honor to the Chittenden County Humane Society. 

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