Dr. Walter Marvin Klein “Doc” passed away peacefully on November 5th, 2016, at his home in Eau Claire, WI.

He was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on March 3rd, 1922, but soon after moved with his parents, Louis and Ethel (Goodman) Klein, to Brooklyn, NY.

Walter graduated from Cornell University in 1945 with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. While in college he joined a bridge club, where he met Jean O’Bryan his future wife and mother of their five children. Bridge soon became more than just a pastime for Walter and Jean. They both became avid players, competing throughout the United States and Canada, and even played once against Omar Sharif.

After graduation in 1945, he married Jean and they moved to Albany, NY, where he had his first veterinary practice. It was in Albany that he took care of Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s dog, a large brown standard poodle that happily shared the Governor’s mansion.

A year later, Walter and his wife drove to Spring Valley, WI, where he had his veterinary practice for nine years. His family then moved to Elmwood, WI for another nine years.

The years he and his family lived in Elmwood, Walter’s veterinary practice was in the basement of their home, where his children loved watching him perform surgery and affectionately care for family pets. Often times neighborhood children would bring wounded birds, rabbits and other small animals to his house so that he could “fix” them, although most of his practice was focused on large animals. His children would anxiously take turns going out on farm calls with him, where many times the families would pay Walter with eggs, chickens or vegetables from their farms.

His family moved to Eau Claire in 1962, where Walter practiced veterinary medicine until retirement in 1984. He was co-owner of the Eau Claire Animal Hospital until opening his own practice, The Ark. During those years there were many young adults and students who would bring their sick or wounded animals to Walter knowing that, even if they could not pay the bill, their animals would be taken care of.

Walter was active in and served on the boards of many organizations. He was the President of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and an active member for many years. He served on the YMCA board, the Human Social Services board, the Luther Hospital Arts Committee board, the Girl Scout board, and was one of the main fundraisers for the establishment and building of the Eau Claire County Humane Association.

After his wife’s death, Walter married Susan Terman in 1991, who also shared an interest in bridge. Together they continued playing and teaching duplicate bridge. Walter became a Silver Life Master, a title given to those who have won a certain number of local and national competitions.

Walter enjoyed animals and nature, collecting art and watching the Green Bay Packers and Brewers. He also had a wonderful sense of humor, as his “breakfast buddies” would attest to.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean; children, Leslie and Bruce; granddaughter, Amy; and sisters, Evelyn and Dorothy.

He is survived by his wife, Susan; son and daughter-in-law, Douglas and Sandy Klein of Kailua, HI; daughter and son-in-law, Shelby Klein and Javier González of Madrid, Spain; daughter, Marcia Claus of Colorado Springs, CO; daughter-in-law, Jeanne Jacowski (Todd) of Stevens Point, WI; three grandchildren: Benjamin Klein, Xana González-Klein (Alejandro Fernández) and Michael Claus (Deanna Griesan); two great-grandsons: Elijah and Xanis; his sister, Jerry Rosoff of Boca Raton, FL; step-daughters, Laurie (John) Blunt and LeAnn Hillman; step-son, Doug Hillman; brother-in-law, Dennis (LeAnn) McMahon and sister-in-law, Sally (Bob) Heintz.

Walter’s family would like to give special thanks for the many years of care and friendship of Dr. Sal Obaid and to the team from St. Joseph’s hospice program. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Eau Claire County Humane Association, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s Jean Klein Scholarship or to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Walter will be buried at St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Spring Valley, WI. Service and burial will be private.

The family will be receiving friends at the Chapel at Trinity Lutheran Church in Eau Claire from 5:00p.m. – 6:00p.m. on Thursday, November 10th, 2016.


  1. Dear Shelby, Javier, Xana and family,
    Thinking of you in this sad time. My prayers are with you and with your dad; may he rest in peace in the presence of God and all the angels. Love, Christina and family?

  2. We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family-especial his daughter and son in law, Shelby Klein and Javier González

  3. The Hillman family (Shirley, Wendy, and Theresa) send you all our love and prayers during this sad time. Walt was a wonderful man and we’re glad to have known him.

  4. Walt Klein was like a father to me. I worked for him when I was in college to pay my vet bill. There was not a finer man, next to my father and husband, in my life. We worked side by side during the MD telethons year after year. I loved him so very much. My heart is sad with this news. Rest in peace my friend!

  5. Deseamos expresaros nuestras más profundas condolencias y que su alma descanse en paz. Nuestro amor y apoyo estará siempre para vosotros.

  6. Dr. Klein was the best Vet ever. There is no one like him. For many years my family went to the Ark. I came back from Mpls. on a Saturday am to keep bringing my pets to him. If people had no way to pay, they were not turned away. My Pomeranian was young and kept vomiting. I took him to the U of M and they said his liver was no good and he should be euthanized. I called Dr. Klein at home in tears and brought him back to the Ark to be euthanized. Dr. Klein looked at his mouth, eyes, and skin and said: “There is nothing wrong with this dog’s liver!!!!!” He thought that something in his throat not developed yet and to feed him baby food meat and meals. I did that for 6 months and he was fine. He lived to be 18.

  7. Dear Marcia, Shelby and Dusty,

    You have been on my mind all week. I have such fond memories of your dear dad & mom. Their home was always ‘open’ for any of your friends or anyone in need. You were truly blessed with wonderful parents who showed you the world and gave you your love of travel & adventure. I remember back in Jr. High when your parents returned home from a bridge tournament in Las Vegas, and you, Marcia, gave me Omar Sharif’s autograph! I still have it. I thought your dad was the coolest dad around…..and I guess he was! My love and prayers for peace & comfort are with you all during this sad time.

    Love you,
    Nan (Nancy Mattison-Jones)

  8. Dear Grampa:

    This days are very difficult for we without you. I want to express my gratitude for sharing part of your life with me and for letting me to be part of your family and of your life.

    You were a very good person and we will always remember you.

    You have one part of my heart.

    Your Spanish Grandson Alejandro

  9. To the family of the beloved Doc Kline….he will always have a part in our hearts…..he took great care of our dogs, cats and horses and always a kind word…..but most of all, he always had a smile…..rest in peace old friend, see you again ,some day………The Carlson family

  10. Dear Dusty, Shelby and Marcia–I heard about your father’s death only last evening. It saddens me to have another one of my dear friends gone. We have been friends for such a long time–before each of you were even born! I have so many memories, I can’t begin to tell of them, but my proudest one is the way he led the Muscular Dystrophy telethons.
    Had I known, I would certainly been at his visitation.
    Nancy Bjornson

  11. I started working for Dr. Klein at the Ark in 1977. I am now the last person to still be working at the Ark that Dr. Klein originally hired. He was a wonderful kind person and I hope I am continuing with his love of all animals at the Ark. I know he is watching over us all. Rest in peace.

  12. Shelby, Marcia and Dusty–I read about your dad’s passing in the Spring Valley Sun and I was very sad. We had such good times together when we were all young living in Spring Valley, all growing in faith together.
    I cannot get out anymore, but I am happy living here in the nursing home.
    May God bless each of you in your sorrow.
    Betty Breitinger

  13. Dear Klein family–I heard about your father’s passing only yesterday and want to tell you how sad it makes me to lose another friend. Your mom and dad were part of our large group of friends in Spring Valley who played, worked and worshiped together.
    I live in an assisted living facility now. Most of my family lives in the area.and that is nice.
    Blessings on each of you.
    Jeanette Reid

  14. Scott and Patty Rice send their condolences to Sue and Shelby. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and you’re family at this time.

  15. I am so sorry I didn’t see this until today. Marcia and I went to high school together. Our family always used Ark for our animals. When I was 17 I found a chocolate lab puppy in the woods up north. On monday I brought him to see Dr. Kline. The puppy was so sick with hook worms that he was unsure he would live, but he did his best and Ponno did live, for 13 more years.. Ponno was the best dog our family had and was well cared for at the Ark. Shortly after I found him my parents made me give him up, we had 2 other dogs already… Well, I went to see him at his now home, and the instructions I communicated to the family, which came from Dr. Kline, were NOT being followed.. I was so upset, I went directly to see Dr. Kline. Unfortunately the family was not in EC county so there was nothing he could do to help me that way, but he did tell me other avenues I could take, and would be available if I needed him. He was so kind and caring, not only to his patient, but the patient owners.. He was a wonderful man. Blessings to you all.

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