William Klein - Ninth Mayor of Bratenahl
10508 Lake Shore Boulevard
Clarence Wood was elected in November 1957 as the eighth mayor of Bratenahl Village. He died in July 1958, having served only six months in office.
William Klein was appointed in July 1958 to serve the remaining term of Clarence Wood, who died in office. He was elected in November 1959 to become the ninth mayor of Bratenahl Village. Klein had previously served on the Bratenahl council for three years.
The Ohio Senate Bill, effective in June 1961, amended the election process. The mayor would be elected for a two-year term in 1961 as in the past. The elections starting in 1963 would be for a four-year term. William Klein was re-elected for two two-year terms and then three four-year terms without opposition. He served as mayor for a total of eighteen years until he retired in 1975.
Mayor Klein received a detailed report by the Urban Land Institute in 1958 stating that Bratenahl could survive only by a dramatic increase in property tax resulting from the construction of a mixture of high-rise apartments, townhouses, and “junior executive” homes.
The balance of funds carried over from 1958 was the smallest for many years, and the situation was dire. The Finance Committee reported that the Village could be short of funds by the end of 1959. Another year would have brought Bratenahl to the brink of disaster. A tax increase would have to be high to balance the budget, and voters in November approved their first tax levy, an 8-mil measure expected to bring in $40,000 a year.
If a problem could be finessed, the affable, dapper Mayor Klein was the man for the job. If the issue could not be finessed, council president James Davis played hardball.
There began an awakening of new interest in Bratenahl during the 1960s. The citizens of Bratenahl started to realize that changes to the existing land use and zoning were necessary for economic survival. Traffic that long congested Lake Shore Boulevard transferred onto the Lakeland Freeway. Beautiful old homes were starting to be restored and in demand again.
Klein felt that his greatest contribution to the Village was the building of Bratenahl Place. This development increased the Village's population and tax base and still met the high standards he established and the leadership of Council President Davis and Councilman Roediger, with all due credit to James Ireland Jr. and Gertrude Britton. Their vision and perseverance created the development. All involved took justifiable pride in the successful outcome.
William A. Klein was born on June 18, 1909, in Hungary. Though his family was Jewish, William attended Villa Angela and graduated from Ohio Military Institute, a preparatory school in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace College in 1930 and attended Georgetown University, graduating with an LL.B. degree in 1934. He attended Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service and Western Reserve University Graduate School. For two years, he served as secretary-treasurer of Klein’s Restaurants, Inc., his family’s enterprise, before entering the private practice of law.
Bill Klein entered the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1941. He was a graduate of the Ohio Military Institute in Cincinnati. He served at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. He completed a course and Fort Knox, Kentucky, before receiving his appointment as a second lieutenant serving as commanding officer of the quartermaster detachment at the air corps school in Enid, Oklahoma.
Bill then served in the China-Burma-India theatre, World War II's forgotten theater that took a back seat to Europe and the Pacific for manpower, resources, and press coverage. Stories of daring pilots who "flew the Hump" of the Himalayas and freewheeling guerrilla fighters known as Merrill's Marauders were as colorful as those from the more heavily documented areas of World War II.
He retired as a major in 1946 and was recalled to active duty in 1951, during the Korean Conflict, and served two years. He remained in the U. S. Air Force Reserves and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1967 after 28 years in the Air Force Reserve, including eight years of active duty.
After his mother died, William went to Spain, where he courted Azucena Gonzalez. They married in Spain with a wedding attended by all the villagers. They married a second time at St. Aloysius Church in Cleveland on December 18, 1966.
Klein recovered from heart surgery and still practiced law at age seventy-six. He died of a stroke on February 15, 1986, at St. Vincent Charity Hospital and buried in Lake View Cemetery.