Robert William Kleinert
April 6, 1923 – March 26, 2014
Robert William Kleinert, known to all as Bob, passed away peacefully on March 26th, 2014 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida at 90 years young. Bob was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Olney High School and later graduated from Drexel University, where he met his wife of 63 years, Jane Bass Kleinert. Putting himself through college by working days and attending school at night, he ultimately earned a degree in engineering. While a student at Drexel, Bob began his 43 year career with Bell Systems, starting as a messenger at Bell of Pennsylvania delivering mail at headquarters, then becoming an installer and line man, and eventually rising up through the ranks to become President of New Jersey Bell, President of AT&T Long Lines and President and Chief Operating Officer of AT&T Communications Inc. Under Bob’s stewardship, AT&T constructed the then largest fiber optic network in the world. His career brought him around the country until finally settling in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, where he and Jane raised their three sons, Rick, Bob, and Jack.
Like many of his generation, Bob’s career was interrupted by military service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in the Army Signal Corps in Laity, Luzon and Okinawa, Japan.
Bob was a director of the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and the New Jersey Re-Insurance Company. From 1986-1989, he served as Chairman of the boards of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and NJM Insurance Group. He served on the Board of the Northeast Region Boy Scouts of America, was President of the Essex County 200 Club, and Treasurer of the New Jersey Bicentennial Commission. He also served as a Trustee of Drexel University and in 1996 he established the Robert and Jane Kleinert Endowed Scholarship in the College of Engineering. In 1994, Drexel elected Bob to the Drexel 100, the 100 most influential Drexel graduates of all time. During retirement, Bob and Jane divided their time between their homes in Mantoloking, New Jersey and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Bob was famous for his love of sports. He played tennis, golf, softball, and platform tennis throughout his adult life. He loved coaching his sons and spent countless hours with them on baseball fields, tennis courts or shooting basketballs in the backyard, instilling in them determination, self-discipline and the value of sportsmanship. His competitive spirit was always evident whether on the sidelines as a coach or participating on the field.
Bob loved his eight grandchildren, Carolyn, Stephanie, Sophie, Jackson, Katelyn, Carlene, John, and Kelly, and three great-grandchildren, Elizabeth, Sophia, and Andrew. Bob’s loyalty to family and friends, tireless work ethic, competitive nature and sense of humor will be missed by all whose lives he touched.
A service of remembrance will be held on Monday, March 31, 2014 at 11 AM at Palms Presbyterian Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and on Friday April 18, 2014 at 10 AM at Grace United Methodist Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Memorial donations in Bob’s name, Robert W. Kleinert, may be given to Grace Methodist Church, Wyckoff, New Jersey and Palms Presbyterian Church, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Arrangements by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 1701 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, 904-249-2374.
Robert William Kleinert
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May 22, 2014
Bob was a one-of-a-kind delightful person. I remember him back 59 years ago when he left AT&T Long Lines engineering for Corporate Headquarters, his first step on a long, deserved climb in the company. My deep regrets to his family.
John P. Moench
April 1, 2014
To the sons of Mr. Kleinert,
I am so sorry for the loss of your dear father. I did not know him, but my prayers are with you in this time of sorrow. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. James 4:8
March 31, 2014
He befriended me in many difficult situations. He was a good friend.
March 30, 2014
Mr. Kleinert will always be remembered by myself as a person who shared his time and concerns for your well being. Jim Jacobsen
March 30, 2014
Mr. Kleinert was a gentleman's gentleman. A truly remarkable career.
Bob Sheehan, NJM (ret.)