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Tributes continue to pour in from those remembering philanthropist Dr. David Klein, one of Charlotte County’s better-known and beloved residents who died last month at 73. 

Klein, an ophthalmologist, served on some 40 nonprofit boards and committees over the four decades he lived in the county. 

Along with Dr. Mark Asperilla, an infectious disease specialist, Klein co-founded the Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, which provides free and low-cost medical care and free prescriptions to Charlotte County residents who are uninsured and/or have low income. 

Most recently, Klein chaired Peace River Wildlife Center’s capital campaign. 

The previous day he attended a comedy show fundraiser for Peace River Wildlife Center and news of his death shocked many, including Tricia LaPointe, executive director of the nonprofit Punta Gorda wildlife rescue center and hospital. 

“He meant so much to us. We were truly honored when he came to us and asked if he could help, LaPointe said. 

LaPointe said Klein was passionate about the wildlife rescue center and that the center was in the midst of raising money to build a new complex in Punta Gorda when Klein came onboard. 

LaPointe said Klein “would meet with us every month and send over great ideas.” 

Gary Butler, executive director of the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda, had many memories to share about Klein, his friend and museum benefactor. 

Butler said Klein was going to receive the museum’s 2023 Distinguished Civilian Award at the Patriots Gala on Jan. 6, 2024. Now, the award will be presented posthumously to his son. 

Klein was very involved with the museum when it opened in 2001, Butler said.  

“I met him shortly after I got here and he said, ‘I want to be part of this,’” Butler said. 

That was in 2004. Butler remembered Klein telling him shortly after they met, “I’ve got Christmas decorations sitting in a warehouse.”  

Each year for many years Klein and his wife Stephanie hosted a huge holiday party resplendent with Christmas decorations. After they stopped hosting, the decor was stored. 

Butler met Klein at the warehouse and they brought the decorations back to the museum in a U-Haul truck. 

That went on for many years. The Kleins personally decorated the museum, and after the holidays, the decorations would go back to the warehouse. 

Butler said Klein “wasn’t just about having his name on some stationery. He would roll up his sleeves and go to work and not expect others to do it.” 

In addition to helping at the museum, Klein also served the board of the Southwest Florida Vietnam Memorial Wall in Punta Gorda. 

His father was in the military and served in the Army Signal Corps and designed radar before the beginning of World War II, Klein revealed in a 2020 interview. 

Butler said not too long-ago Klein told him he had just done weeding and planting bushes at the gazebo area in the park where the Vietnam wall is located. 

“He just wanted to have more purpose and to do something with his hands,” Butler said. 

Klein also engaged in fundraising efforts for the museum and many other nonprofit organizations. 

Charlotte County Commissioner Stephen Deutsch at the commission’s public meeting after Klein’s death, remembered his friend. 

Deutsch choked back tears as he spoke of the contributions Klein made to the county. 

“[Klein] and [Asperilla] and I were a threesome. We were very close friends. David called me a few days before he passed away and said, ‘What’s wrong with these Yankees? Can’t they win a ballgame?’” Deutsch said.  

Both Klein and Deutsch grew up in New York City boroughs. 

“He had a love of the county, veterans, the New York Yankees. He was an incredible guy who cared so much for veterans and first responders. This is a great, incredible loss for Charlotte County.” 

He is survived by two sons, Richard Klein, a dentist in Punta Gorda, and Robert Klein, an attorney in San Diego. 

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