Bob Klein, a longtime Long Island WALK-FM radio personality, died Thursday in his sleep at his Florida home. He was 92.
Klein began his radio career in 1965 at WLIR in the basement of the old Garden City Hotel and in 1966 moved to WALK-FM in East Patchogue, where for 25 of his 26 years there, he greeted Long Islanders in the morning on the "Klein 'til Nine, and Again 'til Ten" show. His show became the No. 1 listened-to morning broadcast on Long Island, said longtime WALK-FM colleague David Weiss of Oakdale.
"All those who worked with and listened to Bob Klein knew of his passion and generosity," said Weiss, who co-hosted the morning show with Klein for his last three years at the station. "We became close immediately -- I thought of him as my 'illegitimate older brother.' . . . He called me 'the son I never wanted,' " recalled Weiss, who is now a weekend anchor at 1010 WINS-AM.
Klein was born in 1921 in Brooklyn and grew up singing, dancing, acting and playing jazz on piano. He used his theatrical background when he served in Special Services -- now United Service Organizations -- for the Air Force during World War II. Beginning at 23, Klein performed with the Tony Martin group, entertaining troops from 1944 to 1946.
"He always made people happy," said his wife of 73 years, Connie Camer Klein. "He had humor and an interest in helping people and keeping them happy."
Klein and his wife met as teenagers and wed after two years. "We met at a New Year's Eve party . . . Bob caught my eye; he was extremely handsome. He was looking at my legs, and I was looking at his face," she said.
"He wrote me a letter for my 38th birthday that said, 'Hallmark has not yet created a card that can describe my real feelings on this important day,' " she said.
Klein and his wife retired in 1992 to Wesley Chapel, Florida, where his former World War II unit was based. He continued entertaining on the radio but soon turned to working with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and later the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his wife, Klein is survived by daughters Suzin Daly of Youngsville, North Carolina, and Gail Roberts of Novato, California.
A small family gathering is planned.