Eight Bells: Simon Kleinman

Published on October 3rd, 2017

Simon “Sy” Kleinman, aged 96 years, died peacefully on September 12 at his residence in Saratoga, California.

Sy was a man of many talents and interests. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, he was the youngest of five and the first generation American in his family who immigrated from a small village in Poland now known as Warsaw.

Serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army during WWII, Sy was bound for the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Fate, however, stepped in as he became ill and was held back. Sadly none of his platoon survived.

After his discharge from military service, he drove out west to seek opportunity, arriving in San Francisco, CA in 1947. He worked various jobs in sales but found his ultimate calling in the automobile business.

Starting out as a salesman on a used car lot in the outer Mission District of San Francisco in the mid 1950’s, he was chosen by Ford Motor Company to manage and ultimately own a new Ford dealership in San Jose (CA) in 1969. The grand opening for his dealership, Capitol Ford Inc. of San Jose was in 1970 and Sy remained its President with sons Larry and Paul beside him at the helm for 33 years before retiring in 2001.

World traveler and teller of stories and jokes extraordinaire, Sy was a self-made man, well regarded and recognized amongst his professional peers and within the community.

His other great passion was sailboat racing. Sy and his wife Phyllis bought Swiftsure (“Big Blue”) from Nick Frazee in San Diego in 1990, raced her for a few years and then built the Schumacher 52 Swiftsure II. Passing just prior to the 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series, his crew won yet another one for the Skipper! This first place win marked his 7th class win since 1990 and his 36th year of competing in the event.

“A favorite story was when he got asked to take Walter Cronkite out for a sail on Big Blue,” recalled Susan Ruhne. “He called the crew and asked if we were available to ‘take the old guy’ out sailing… when pressed he said that Walter was older then he was! We had a great day with two classic sailors blasting around San Francisco Bay.”

Sy’s pursuit of the sport included the Transpac and Pacific Cup races to Hawaii, the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii, and races to Mexico.

One of Sy’s favorite sailing toasts was ‘Slåinte Gaelach ~ An Irish Toast’:
Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking.
If you cheat, may you cheat death.
If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart.
If you fight, may you fight for a brother.
And if you drink, may you drink with me.

Devoted husband to his late wife Phyllis Mae Kleinman for 60 years. Father to his sons, Laurence Hernandez, daughter in law, Kristi, Elliot Kleinman, daughter in law, Afi, Paul Kleinman, daughter in law, Debra and daughter-in-law Joyce Kleinman. His legacy continues with his grandchildren, Jenni Kleinman Berebitsky (Jeff), Scot Kleinman (Shannon), Rob Kleinman (Gerri), Leslie Hernandez Dinneen (Jon), Alex Kleinman, Mark Hernandez (Beverly), Asher Kleinman, Alec Kleinman, and Ari Kleinman and great grandchildren Wyatt Kleinman, Philip Berebitsky, Violet Kleinman and Skah Kleinman

Sy is survived by his first wife, Ruth Kleinman. Preceded in death by his beloved wife Phyllis, parents, Yankel and Tzriel Kleinman, his brothers Gabriel “Scrilic”, Samuel, Henry “Noyach” and sister Rose Weithorn.

Friends and family are invited to the graveside Interment Service to be held at 2 PM on Friday, October 6th at Madronia Cemetery, 14766 Oak St. Saratoga CA 95070 where Sy will be laid to rest next to the love of his life, Phyllis. The service will be followed by a reception hosted by his family in Saratoga.

On the following day, Sy’s family will hold a private ceremony out to sea past the Golden Gate Bridge to spread his ashes over the waves where he spent so many happy moments on his boats.

Fair winds and following seas, Simon. You will be greatly missed.

Those wishing to donate to causes dear to Simon’s heart on his behalf:
The Disabled Veterans National Foundation, Lanham, MD 202-737-0522.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, CA ~ 800-900-9036

Please notate that you wish your donation placed under Restricted Funds so that 100% of the proceeds go to the people who need it most.

Source: Legacy.com, Susan Ruhne

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