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Esther M. Klein, 97, Journalist and Philanthropist

November 17, 2005
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Esther Moyerman Klein, 97, who served Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians for more than 70 years as a journalist, patron of the arts, philanthropist and government official, died Oct. 19 in her Center City apartment.

A native Philadelphian, Klein started her career in journalism after graduation from Girls High School and Temple University. She worked as a freelance writer for the Philadelphia Jewish Times, Atlantic City Press and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

After World War II, she became editor of the Art Alliance Bulletin, and in 1949, she and husband Philip Klein, initiated a morning talk show on WPEN known as "Mr. and Mrs. at Breakfast." Starting at 9 a.m., the couple would review the events of the day and interview guests. The hourly show was broadcast from their Center City apartment and from their summer home in Harvey Cedars, N.J., until 1953.

After the radio show, Klein became publisher of the Philadelphia Jewish Times, where for the next 20 years she wrote a weekly column dealing with current issues. The column would also contain diaries of the many worldwide trips she had taken with her husband. The columns appeared until the paper was sold in 1974.

During that period, she wrote A Guidebook to Jewish Philadelphia and a Guide to Fairmount Park. She also edited, in 1965 and 1966, celebrity cookbooks produced as fundraisers for International House of Philadelphia.

In 1953, Klein founded the Rittenhouse Square Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Five years later, the committee started a lecture series prior to the weekend concerts. When the Academy of Music ballroom was refurbished, the famous lecture luncheon series, which still takes place, was moved there.

Her volunteer efforts included serving as a director of the Rittenhouse Square Flower Market Committee, as well as involved time with the Curtis Institute of Music, the Historical Society of Philadelphia and International House of Philadelphia. She chaired many benefits and galas that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Philadelphia institutions.

She had been appointed to the initial Commission on Charitable Organizations in 1969 by Republican Governor Raymond Shafer, and in 1973, was appointed to the Commission on Ethics of State officials by Democratic Governor Milton Shapp.

In more recent years, Klein intensified her role as a patron of the arts with the creation of the Esther M. Klein Gallery at the University City Science Center, where she served as a director.

Through her philanthropic efforts, several institutions are named in her honor, including the Esther M. Klein Rehearsal Hall at Temple University's Boyer School of Music and the Esther M. Klein apartments at Inglis House in Wynnefield.

She has been honored as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, and was the recipient of the Gimbel Award for volunteer service and the Philadelphia Art Alliance Medal of Achievement.

In 1999, then Mayor Ed Rendell renamed 36th Street at Market "Esther Klein's Way."

Klein is survived by a daughter; son Arthur Klein; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband of 52 years, Philip Klein, in 1982.

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