For years, Marjorie Klein was by the side of her husband, Herb Klein, on goodwill trips to foreign countries and embassy receptions. She was a partner but also a confidante to the former director of communications for President Nixon and Copley Newspapers executive.
“Marge was the ideal person to be supportive of somebody who was active in civic affairs,” her husband said Tuesday. “She met more world leaders than any other woman in San Diego.”
Mrs. Klein died of natural causes Tuesday. She was 87.
She was born in Long Beach and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1941 with a degree in business. It was while attending USC, in a class on international relations, that she met the man who would become her husband.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was the romance of the century,” said San Diego businessman Leon Parma, a friend of the couple’s since 1950. “They were in love and inseparable.”
Former U.S. Rep. and Republican vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp credited Mrs. Klein with holding her family together during her husband’s career in politics and as editor in chief of Copley Newspapers.
“She was such an important part of Herb’s life, both professionally and socially,” Kemp said. “She kept the Kleins so relevant in the world of Washington. Everybody who knew Marge Klein loved her humor and integrity.”
Mrs. Klein’s daughters, Patty Root and Joanne Mayne, called her a “remarkable woman” in a statement released Tuesday.
“Our mother always supported him in his efforts while at the same time giving him peace of mind in knowing that she was taking good care of us in our home,” the statement read.
Mrs. Klein’s world went beyond social circles and the Washington beltway. She was involved in the San Diego ARCS Foundation – Achievements Rewards for College Scientists – and was instrumental in raising money for colleges and students committed to science programs.
Former California Gov. and U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson said Mrs. Klein’s experiences made her a trusted sounding board for her husband.
“She was an intelligent person who could provide a different perspective on events,” Wilson said.
She also was a calming influence in the middle of the political firestorms Klein often found himself in during his years with Nixon, Wilson said.
“She was alive to the fortunes of political war,” he said. “For him to have someone like Marge to turn to was a great asset in political life.”
Mrs. Klein is survived by her husband, two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 13 at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, 4321 Eastgate Mall, San Diego. A reception will follow at 2:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, 3777 La Jolla Village Drive.
The family suggests donations to the University of Southern California, Herbert G. Klein Lecture Series, 950 W. Jefferson Blvd., No. 102, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1291; or to a charity of choice.