The first time Susan Klein saw her future husband, he was walking through the Pittsburgh airport with a typewriter in one hand and a tennis racket in the other. It was 1968, and Susan was headed to the University of Michigan to begin her sophomore year. John Klein was also headed to Ann Arbor to begin his first year at the University of Michigan Law School.
They met on the airplane, and after marrying in 1970, began a lifetime partnership that has taken them around the world. Susan, who graduated with a degree in English and a minor in French, worked for Citibank and Irving Trust Company in New York before the Kleins moved to Brussels, where she served as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
The couple moved frequently to accommodate John’s positions at Bunge, the global agribusiness company where he worked for 28 years. When Susan and John moved back to the United States, she focused her attention on their two now-grown children, Jennie and Tom, and on volunteer activities.
When John accepted the position at Randolph, he did so knowing he had Susan’s full support, and the couple made Lynchburg their ninth home. In addition to serving as a confidante to John, Susan took on many roles as a volunteer for the College, including managing events at the President’s House, arranging the Kleins’ extensive travel to alumnae chapters and independent schools, and playing a significant role in the interior design elements of the College’s capital projects.
She also helped select and hang paintings from the College’s collection throughout the College, including in the new Student Center, and was a constant presence, along with John, at student activities and events.
“Susan worked as hard behind the scenes as John did in the public eye,” said Katharine “Kitty” Stark Caldwell ’74, a trustee emerita.
Susan Klein was named an honorary member of the Class of 1958 and received a ring at the 2013 Reunion.
“Indefatigable, Susan joined John in championing the College by her engagement of our constituencies, her promotion of the College, her assistance in campus improvement decisions, her entertainment of the College’s friends, and her support for the president during a difficult transition time. Randolph has been first and foremost in Susan’s life these past six years,” Caldwell added.
Susan’s diligence was apparent to many who worked closely with her. “I’ve seen her in conversation with just about every constituency of the College,” said Carolyn Burgess Featheringill ’69, a trustee.
“No matter who it is, Susan is invariably smiling and those beautiful eyes are focused solely on the person to whom she is speaking,” Featheringill added. “Everyone is important to Susan. When I try to describe Susan to my College friends who haven’t met her, I invariably end by saying that, if Susan had been with us in College, she’d have been one of our best friends.”
Susan treasured the personal interactions. “My favorite parts of our time at Randolph have been meeting so many wonderful alumnae, attending athletic and other events where we watched the students perform, and working with the College’s wonderful staff,” she said.
The long hours and challenging times were worth it, Susan added. “We feel really good about where the College is and how we are leaving it.”