In Memoriam – Donald Klein (’65)

BY LEAH AARONSON — It is with both sadness and celebration that I write this memoriam for Donald “Donny” Martin Klein, a cherished friend and family member who was also a beloved classmate, scholar, professor, attorney, and devout Miami Hurricanes fan.  On August 14, 2013, Donny’s heart of gold failed to survive intensive open-heart surgery. Still, Donny’s legacy at Miami Law and in the Miami legal community will forever be revered.

Donny grew up in Miami Beach and attended Miami Beach Senior High, where he was a member of the class of 1958. After graduation, Donny moved to Boston, where he played football for Harvard College while earning his Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Upon graduating from Harvard cum laude, he was offered scholarships at both Harvard Law School and the University of Miami School of Law. Because of Donny’s love for Miami, his family being in South Florida, and his genuine knack for always making the right decision, Donny accepted Miami Law’s offer and joined the class of 1965.

Donny ranked number one in his class at Miami Law for each of the three years that he attended. Donny was also an active member of the University of Miami Law Review, where he held various leadership positions on the Executive Board. He was an Assistant Editor for the Fall and Winter 1963 issues, the Executive Editor for the Spring and Summer 1964 issues, and finally, he was elected Editor-in-Chief for the Fall and Winter 1964 issues. Certainly having one of the sharpest minds of his time, Donny wrote three articles that were published in the University of Miami Law Review: Gift Tax Consequences of Joint Ownership and the Taxable Divorce; A “Check List” for the Drafting of Enforceable Antenuptial Agreements; and The Extension of a Private Remedy to Defrauded Security Investors Under SEC Rule 10.B/5. At the culmination of his term as Editor-in-Chief, Donny served as Editor Emeritus on the University of Miami Law Review until he graduated cum laude.

In 1964, Donny was inducted into the Iron Arrow Honor Society. Donny proudly displayed his induction certificate in his office, alongside his diplomas from Harvard College and Miami Law. Also holding a membership with Miami Law’s Society of Wig & Robe, Donny was heavily involved in law school extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, he continually made time for his friends, family, and of course, his favorite sports teams.

Upon law school graduation, Donny joined his father’s law firm, where he remained employed until the day he passed away. The firm, Kline Moore & Klein, is one of the oldest continuously-operating law firms in all of Florida. The firm was established in 1947, with its three founding  partners being Fuller Warren (the 30th Governor of Florida), Nathanial J. Klein (Donny’s father and retired FBI agent), and Clarence Moore (also a retired FBI agent).

When Donny joined his father’s firm, his practice focused primarily on real estate and corporate law. As time progressed, Donny became very skilled at complex estate planning and probate administration. Eventually, Donny was a recognized expert in these areas and was trusted with a myriad of highly complicated estate administration matters. With a passion for his community, Donny served as President of the Miami Beach Bar Association and on the board of directors for Spectrum Programs, the largest drug treatment center in South Florida.

As is evident, Donny Klein loved the law and the legal profession. He taught Property as an adjunct professor at Miami Law from 1970-72, and he fondly reminisced on the times he spent by a chalkboard when I told him that I, too, would be starting at UM last year. It was clear to anyone who knew him that Donny was indeed a problem solver and certainly loved to help people fix whatever needed fixing. Donny did tremendous amounts of pro bono work, as he had a remarkable soft spot for those who could not afford an attorney to prepare a will or trust.

While reading through the 1963, 1964, and 1965 publications of the University of Miami Law Review, I came across an Editor’s Page signed “D.M.K..” The page, written by Donny while he was Editor-in-Chief, would normally involve an introduction to the articles published in that issue. However, this particular Editor’s Page was different. The Winter 1964 Editor’s Page was a memoriam to his friend and professor, Fowler Harper, who had passed away that year. The last paragraph reads:

In writing more than three centuries ago, Shakespeare must have had Fowler Harper in mind when he said:

“His life was gentle, and the elements

So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up

And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!'”

Though we are saddened by his loss, those of us who were privileged to have

Experienced his light are grateful for the memories he has left behind, and we are far better for having known him.

Donny’s own words wonderfully describe the life he continued to lead after law school. Those who knew Donny were certainly better for having known him, just as his life was better for having known Fowler Harper. Donny will forever be missed.


4 thoughts on “In Memoriam – Donald Klein (’65)

  1. Albert George

    I know Donny for 10 years or so, and felt that he not only did he represented me as an outstanding attorney but came to think of him as a Big Brother. The world is a better place for the privilege of having Don in my life. R.I.P. Love ALBIE

  2. kevin f. kline

    As Managing Partner of Kline,Moore & Klein, P.A. I wanted to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the University of Miami Law Review for publishing the kind and thoughtful Memoriam
    about Donald Klein (’65). Having practiced with Donald for almost 34 years until his untimely death was an honor and privledge. As pointed out in the Memoriam, Donald was possessed with an extraordinary mind combined with an inate sense of fairness, kindness, humanity and good humor. With Donald’s passing, three generations of two families practicing law togther for more than 65 years has come to an end. Donald’s death is a difficult loss not just for those of us at Kline, Moore & Klein but for the legal community in South Florida as a whole. Donald viewed practicing law not just as an opportunity to earn a living but rather as a vehicle to help people and solve problems. Donald you brought light into this world and left it a better place with your contributions and generosity.

  3. Dana Radell

    Very nicely written, thank you.
    I am one of the many who will truly miss him, and it feels as if I no longer have the same level of safety and protection that I grew up with, for I grew up knowing Donny Klein. He was indeed so generous and kind, a rare and wonderful man. I feel lucky to have had the privilege of his presence in my life.


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