William (Bill) Otto Kleinhans died at home with family by his side on Saturday, April 21st, at the age of 88.
Bill was born to Frederick George and Hedwig Konrad Kleinhans on January 22, 1930 on Long Island, New York. He attended William Cullen Bryant High School and graduated in 1948. From there, he entered the Navy as an enlisted volunteer (USNEV), where he served aboard both the U.S.S. Manchester and the U.S.S. Helena. He served from 1948-1949, before continuing his service as a member of the Naval Reserves. Upon completing his active duty, Bill graduated from New York State Ranger School in 1951.
Bill’s forty-four-year career as a forester began in 1951 when he was hired by International Paper Company to work in Camden, South Carolina. His career took him to Edgefield, Marion, and finally, in 1956, to Conway, South Carolina. After leaving South Carolina, Bill and his family lived in Richmond Hill, Georgia, from 1973-1978. In 1978 he and his family moved to Marianna, Florida. He worked as a forester until his retirement in 1995, but remained active in forestry long after this time, completing his last land management plan in 2017.
Bill considered himself not only a forester, but also a woodturner, conservationist, and educator. It is his works within the community for which he will be best remembered. He was an active member of First United Methodist Church beginning in 1979. He joined the Optimist Club in 1979 and had the honor of serving as their Distinguished President from 1983-1984. He was passionate about environmental education and served as a member and chair of the Marianna City Tree Board and as a member of the Project Learning Tree Steering Committee for 17 years. PLT is an international environmental education program.
The true work of Bill’s lifetime was his service to the Boy Scouts of America. In 1948, during his final year of high school, he began his seventy-year scouting career as an assistant Scout Master, and, in 1956, got his first troop of his own. He was proud to serve as Scout Master, continuously, for the next sixty-two years. Under his leadership, Troop 3 in Marianna has produced 29 Eagle Scouts. He also served as the Environmental Conservation Director at Boy Scout Camp Alaflo for twelve years.
Throughout his lifetime, Bill was honored with many awards. These include: Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow, Boys Scouts of America District Award of Merit, Florida Forestry Communicator of the Year, Stone Container Corporation Employee of the Year, Fellow of the Society of John Wesley, Project Learning Tree Facilitator of the Year, Optimist of the Year, Jackson County Citizen of the Year, and Rotary Club Citizen of the Year.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and son, Freddy. He is survived by his wife of forty-five years, Gladys; daughter Evie (Garry) Kleinhans Sheward of Havana, FL; granddaughter Elizabeth Sheward of High Springs, FL; step-children Susan (Chris) Jackson Silver of Gainesville, GA and Bill (Linda) Jackson of Van Nuys, CA; grandchildren Tanzi Jackson and Christopher Jackson of Van Nuys, CA and Murray Jackson, of Atlanta, GA; cousin Senta (Heinz) Schmidt of Long Island, NY; special friends Jason and Estelle Whiddon; and many more loving friends.
Services will be held at First United Methodist Church in Marianna on Tuesday, April 24th. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am (CST) followed by funeral service at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Bill’s name to Boy Scouts of America Troop 3 in care of troop’s treasurer Melissa Krebeck at 3054 Noland St. Marianna FL 32446. Services have been entrusted to the caring staff of Peoples Funeral Home of Marianna, FL.