MONTICELLO — William George Klein was welcomed into this world on May 9, 1930, by his parents, Conrad and Sarah Klein. His early life was at the Laughlin farm; Sarah’s family. The farm was near Strahan, Iowa.
Soon, his father moved them to Chicago, where he was lead tailor at Russeks Furs in downtown Chicago. William delivered these on foot throughout downtown. In Chicago, he began his love of baseball and the Cubs.
The family then moved to Des Plaines. William and his two sisters grew up and graduated high school there. He went to Lincoln College in 1948 for two years. He was then off to Millikin College in Decatur and graduated with a business degree in 1952.
Uncle Sam called him into the service in 1952. William was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He was proud of his service and the sargent’s stripes he earned.
Bill was discharged and had a job with General Motors Corp. waiting for him. Bill started his career as an insurance claims adjuster. Bill then went to Sullivan Chevrolet in Champaign. The owner, Giles Sullivan, saw Bill’s talents and abilities. He handed over the keys to Bill in the early 1960s. Bill was then general manager of Sullivan Chevrolet.
Bill had married the love of his life, Joanne Ryan, on Nov. 12, 1955. By 1964, Bill and Joanie had four children and a new house in south Champaign. The kids grew and so did Bill’s career. By 1976, Giles Sullivan had passed on and so had Bill’s career at the dealership. Bill then moved on to Morrison.
In 1976, Bill purchased the Chevy-Olds car dealership in Morrison. He made many friends there, and Lindsey-Klein Chevy-Olds was his pride and joy. Bill and Joanie were active in Morrison and hosted countless gatherings at their home. “Bill’s Bar” was the best in town.
Bill reluctantly sold his half of the dealership in the early 1990s to his partner, Chuck Lindsay. He then bought his first Super Wash car wash in Grinnell, Iowa. Bill then sold this and built another in Monticello.
Bill and Joanie moved to Monticello, and by 2000, Bill had another Super Wash in Savoy.
Bill was athletic and loved to run, which turned into jogging, then into walking. He did this almost every day of his life. He played organized softball in the 1950s and '60s and would travel to different towns. Bill took up golf in the '60s after family and his job kept him close to home. He also liked to bowl. He and his wife Joanie were on many league teams throughout their lives.
Bill was a member of the Elks Club. He was active with the Elks and was even “Man of the Year” once in the 1970’s at the Elks Club on Hill St. Champaign.
Bill and Joanie were married for over 50 wonderful years. Their adventure together ended when Joanie passed in 2006. Several years later, Bill found companionship and married Loranna Brewer.
Bills children took him to many Cubs games at Wrigley Field and another ballpark. He especially loved the peanuts. One of Bill’s biggest thrills was seeing the Cubs win the World Series in 2016.
On a clear moonlit morning, Bill joined his wife Joanie on June 17, 2018. At peace and together again, they are buried at the Monticello Township Cemetery. Bill had a graveside service with his children and their families. He was honored with a military send off. “Dad used to take me to the ballpark in his 1939 Ford. I would hear the crowd and say, hurry dad we might miss something.”
Bill is survived by his four children, Michael Klein of Champaign, David Klein of Sidney, Richard Klein of Champaign and Kathy Hess of Aurora. Bill is also survived by two granddaughters and two great-granddaughters. Richard’s daughter, Joanie Klein, and Kathy’s daughter, Cari Urrutia and her daughters, Kaytlan and Sienna. Bill sisters are Mary Lee Badalamente and Constance Morley.