A Life of Purpose, A Life Fulfilled

Mel Klein, 96, a Resident of the Delaney of Bridgewater, Shares What Makes Him Grateful

What are you most grateful for in your life?

I am grateful for my three daughters—Kathy, Linda and Leslie—and my wife, Jean. 

I originally attended Carnegie Tech for engineering but realized that would not be my career of choice. However, I took all my math and science courses and when I finished serving in the Navy during World War II, I decided to be a teacher. I went to a school with a funny name: Slippery Rock State Teachers College. It was the best decision I ever made. 

When I was about 23 and a senior, I was thinking I was going to be an old man. I wanted to be with someone who shared my religious philosophy. I had an opportunity to meet Jean, a young lady who was a freshman, and we started dating.

Since I was about to graduate, I started interviewing for teaching jobs. I recall I had my first interview in a rural area of Western Pennsylvania with a superintendent who was milking a cow while we spoke. That was a unique beginning to my life as a teacher. I was in farm country for two years and learned a lot of things. Jean transferred schools to be with me. 

Can you tell us what is most important in life?

Family. I was at Glen Ridge High School for 11 years, where I taught Math and was the head tennis and basketball coach. This kept me away from home many nights and weekends. One night, my daughter Kathy jokingly said, “Who is that man?” when I came home. I thought about this and told Jean that I would do this work one more year, then I would give up coaching and we would move to the New Jersey–New York area. 

We moved to Livingston, but guess what? A couple of years later, I was named principal of Glen Ridge High School when the principal resigned and had a lot of night meetings again. Eventually, I became the Superintendent of the Livingston School District.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory? 

When Leslie, my youngest child, was around 4, she was starting to understand what family life was and I taught her the meaning of Thanksgiving—beyond the football games. 

What do you like most about your life now?

I have been at The Delaney for two years and am very happy here. I get everything that I need and am able to contribute as well. I have made great friends—both male and female. I have learned that in this social world a man and a woman can be friends. I have grown as a person being around my friends here. The staff at The Delaney has become an extension of family, from the hourly staff to management.

What advice do you have for younger generations about the importance of giving back?

Giving back is your opportunity to grow as a person. It’s like going to graduate school, only you are learning more about sharing. 

Find out more about The Delaney of Bridgewater at TheDelaneyOfBridgewater.com.

Giving back is your opportunity to grow as a person. It’s like going to graduate school, only you are learning more about sharing. 

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