In Remembrance: Felix Kleeberg ’43 Died on May 27 2016

View full image

Felix Kleeberg, age 94, died in Vacaville, California, on May 27, 2016, after a brief illness.

A long-time resident of northern California, Felix was born to Felix Kleeberg Sr. (Yale class of 1888) and Mabel Myers on March 7, 1922. He grew up in Far Rockaway, New York, and later graduated from Yale University, Class of 1943. His class had its graduation moved up to January 1943 so that Felix and many of his classmates could go directly into the service to fight in World War II.  Felix served as a lieutenant commander on the destroyer USS Overton, where he saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

After the war, Felix was an assistant professor of naval science at Princeton through 1946. His civilian career began in journalism, where he spent five years as a news reporter for a New York business paper. Felix then moved into sales promotion, first with office equipment manufacturer Diebold, Inc., of Norwalk, Connecticut, and then with John Hancock Life. He successfully advanced from agent to sales manager and then became general agent when he created and opened the first East Bay area John Hancock Agency in Walnut Creek, California.

Felix retired in 1986 as the director of agencies for John Hancock Financial Services. He was active in the Navy League of the US for many years, serving in turn as Contra Costa Council vice president, California state president, and national board of directors member. Felix also served his community, volunteering time with the Kiwanis Club and Boy Scouts of America.

In 1943, Felix married June Robbins, who sadly died of a rare illness in 1945. Two years later, he wed Renee Finkel, a Juilliard graduate whom he had known since grade school. Felix and Renee had two children: Wendy, born in 1949; and Richard, born in 1953. In the mid-1950s, Felix and Renee began a new adventure by moving from the East Coast to California, where they settled in Danville. They shared many interests, including music, books, Stanford football, and travel; together they cruised to and visited over 35 countries around the world. But their biggest passion was boating, discovered just three months after their wedding when they purchased a small catboat and sailed Long Island Sound.

After they moved west, Felix and Renee spent some four decades cruising and enjoying the California Delta in a succession of larger and larger boats. They even lived aboard a 56-foot catamaran moored in Antioch for many years. After that experience, they opted for a house in Stockton to be close to the marina and their new cruiser. Felix lost his life partner of 55 years in 2003, when Renee passed away. In 2007, Felix married another friend from his childhood, Gail Kushner, with whom he moved to Sonoma. They spent seven happy years traveling and enjoying family until her death in 2014.

Remarkably, Felix had never been hospitalized for any reason until this year. He remained mentally sharp until the end, conversing about current events, demonstrating his wry sense of humor, making decisions about his medical care, and reminiscing about his long life. Felix always said that some of his happiest years were those he spent at Yale, and he supported and promoted the university all through his life. Felix is survived by his daughter, Wendy Kleeberg Alexander; son Richard Kleeberg; son-in-law Richard (Dick) Alexander; daughter-in-law Eleanor Yeatman; and stepchildren Daniel (Deke) Kushner Jr., Lewis (Luke) Kushner, David Kushner, Deborah Kushner, and Sara (Susie) Tapiero.

—Submitted by the family.

Post a remembrance