Friday, January 18, 2013
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Jonathan Kleier ‘01 Leadership Endowment was established by our family in 2009 after the sudden and heartbreaking loss of our beloved brother and son, Jonathan Kleier, Class of 2001. While a student at Horace Mann School, Jonathan was legendary in athletics. As the captain of both varsity football and lacrosse, he was an incredible competitor and fearless leader who commanded the respect of everyone around him. My brother never gave up – in the last game of the season senior year, he played the game as though he was fine, but when he walked off the football field, we saw that he had cracked ribs and torn ligaments in his leg. Known on the field as “Killer Kleier,” off the field he was a teddy bear, and equally as fierce and loyal in his friendships as he was in the game. Jonathan’s passion was infectious; so was his smile and his laugh, which you could recognize from across a room. His former co-captain and friend said “Jon Kleier taught me how to trust. With him I learned how to be truly dedicated to a cause greater than myself.”
Jonathan’s best memories were of his time spent with teammates, both on and off the field. His personality and leadership qualities were magnetic. He brought people together. Another former teammate said “Jon was the rare breed of leader that led vocally and by example. For Jon, it was all about pride. He took pride in himself, he took pride in winning, and he took pride in his teammates. He expected the best from those who surrounded him and pushed them to achieve it.” Those who were fortunate enough to play with him will never forget him. To our family, this statement from another teammate says it all: “without Jonathan, there would be no heart on the team.”
Our family hopes that the endowment we have established will ensure that Jonathan’s legacy - a legacy of leadership, laughter and love - will never be forgotten. The award we give in his memory recognizes an athlete who best exemplifies these characteristics: passion, pride, and leadership. This year’s recipient is certainly known for all three and we are very proud and humbled to honor Jonathan’s legacy by acknowledging this student today.
This year’s recipient has put a lot of time and energy into Horace Mann Athletics and could be found all over campus supporting other players, teams and non athletic events. As a three-sport student athlete who was the captain of two teams, you might question how he found the time, but he simply made it a priority to be there for his classmates.
He is an inspirational player and his teams rallied around him. He served as a mentor to young players and loved being able to help. As a result he taught them all to be better individuals and, together, a better team.
The water polo team voted him their captain this year and at the end of the season they also voted him their MVP. The season’s success can be credited to his efforts to create an environment in which all team members thrived. He was also a standout on the swim team where he constantly pushed himself and his teammates to their limits. Together they celebrated their 4th straight Ivy League swim title. Finally, as captain of the baseball team he led by example each day by being the first one on the field and last one off trying to hone his skills as a player and encourage others to do so as well. At this year’s spring sports banquet he was awarded the Stanley Shier memorial baseball award for dedication, loyalty, enthusiasm and concern for others. And now, confirming that he was the go-to guy for all seasons, we are pleased to present the 2011 Jonathan Kleier ’01 Leadership Award to Reuben Dizengoff.
A beautiful note from Reuben's parents following class day:
Dear the Kleier Family,
We wanted to express our gratitude and let you know how honored we are that Reuben was chosen for the Jonathan Kleier '01 Leadership Award.
While we did not know Jonathan, we were so moved by your remarks about him and his love of life and HM. Reuben shares these same qualities and in another world they would have been friends. We wanted to meet you after the awards ceremony but Dr. Schiller said you had left; perhaps another day.
A few things Betsy and I wanted to share with you:
Like Jonathan, Reuben loves Jay-Z (in fact, it was his quote in the Mannikin).
Like Jonathan, Reuben wore number 32.
Most importantly, like Jonathan, Reuben sees the best in everyone.
Like Jonathan, Reuben learned that leadership matters, it is a difference maker.
So, thank you, we are honored.
Betsy and Ira Dizengoff
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I remember when you were born they announced over the loud speaker at Horace Mann for Samantha and I to go to Mr Fountains office and we couldn't run fast enough. I remember waiting for you to come home from the hospital and seeing you for the first time, our beautiful blond cherub.
I remember watching you grow into a mischevous little boy- running never walking (like Cooper), playing with our friends and giggling when you mimicked us, being wheeled around in a wagon at the beach with the Barams and Goulds cackling, and squeeling, and later sneaking out with us on the boardwalk after your bedtime and breaking your leg on the back of Tammy's bike (that was the one time in our lives Samantha and I got grounded!).
As a young boy I remember you as a star athlete, the funniest and smartest and sweetest boy in the class, winning EVERY prize at field day. As a young man, I remember blasting Billy Joel with you, loving your bear hugs, helping you pick out gifts and a commitment ring for Jen, family vacations (our happiest times), and driving with Jay Z on the radio, then ipod. You picked my wedding song of course, Uptown Girl, you took care of us and fiercely protected "the family" and you spent every Sunday with us barbecuing at the beach, and cuddling up at mom and dad's in the winter.
We lost you before Cooper's first birthday, but we know you saved him when the rattle cracked in his mouth, and he knows you are his guardian angel. Today he is going to sports class and he will be wearing his Horace Mann jersey with your number, 32, and when he runs so fearlessly and blissfully I see you. Wishing you a day filled with writing, and analyzing and sunshine and kisses from Fluffy and Daisy and Lilly, and love and when you have a spare second come visit us because everything we do we do for you.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
It is the night before your 28th birthday. In our past, wonderful life, we would all be going to the office together tomorrow, and giving you birthday kisses, and mom would probably say “what do you want to do special for your birthday lunch” and you would say “nothing, just eat here with the family.” You have been talking about the Verizon I phone for years (I know from JP), so of course, we would be getting you that as a present. In my heart I am imagining the one JP gets as being for you. Tomorrow night, we will go to mom and dad’s and what will we have? Either dad will make your favorite spaghetti and meatballs OR we will order first wokadoo, eggrolls, chicken and broccoli, wonton eggdrop soup. Saturday night the family will all go to the Palm and you will have a wedge, extra vinaigrette on the side (you and I love and appreciate a good vinaigrette so much!) and then the filet mignon, medium almost well, but never butterflied. Then you will go out to meet your friends and we will go home to put chase and cooper to bed.
I am thinking so much of all of our years together, and I feel so so lucky to have you as my brother. You are the best brother anyone could have – you are the sweetest, the most supportive, the most generous and thoughtful (I remember the doll you bought mom one year for Christmas, and the way you sat with me when I was on bedrest with Chase, so genuinely interested in what it was like to be growing another person in my stomach, and you were only 22 years old), you are the funniest and smartest and at once most modest and also most confident kid, you are so excited and hopeful and appreciative of life. I have the most amazing memories of you, because I got to watch you grow up – don’t forget I felt like your second mother (sometimes to the point you would get so mad at me – “stop being my mother” you would yell and “don’t use that tone with me!”) – memories of you running down the hallway when you must have been 18 months old, blond curls everywhere, in footy pajamas, coming to kiss me goodnight as I was doing homework, the summer you turned two and got chicken pox (even in your eyeball) and had to wear gloves and a little white bathrobe and you couldn’t go in the pool which was so upsetting because it was the first summer we had one, the summer you became obsessed with ghostbusters and even when it was 90 degrees you stood at the pool in your little proton pack and ghostbusters outfit (thank goodness we have a photo of you dressed up), all your little outfits, the pink blazers and madras bowties, swimming in the ocean at boca together (the ocean uker), you watching “photography,” watching clueless together with Sabrina the year in boca we were all in one room, you in a cot, taking you to see forrest gump, years before that your coming with us to see basic instinct and mom sticking the popcorn bag over your head, you never letting us eat the “poopycoon” until the movie started, holding the bag on the floor and guarding it, Cecilia, driving to Pittsburgh every year, you in the middle seat of the car, baking brownies with all of mine and sabrina’s friends, dancing in the dining room at the boca beach club with our favorite waiter skipper, you always being with all our friends, especially jimmy nissenson (he adored you) and roger Mincheff, your coming up to Penn visiting weekend and going crazy for the cinnabons at the food court and deciding you wanted to go to Penn simply bc you loved the food, when I had the taxi accident and we went to helaine’s house in florida together and you helped me get up and down the steps on my crutches, then we all started to get a little older, bringing Fluffy, Daisy and Lily to your football games at HM, visiting you in the hospital when you had shoulder surgery and mom slept on a chair in your room every night, chinooz badooz, what’s for lunch badunch, zsaka, baka, make the spell go on!, taking pictures at mom and dad’s of you and jen going to the prom, helping you pick out a lavender cashmere sweater for her at Ralph lauren because you wanted her to dress like us, visiting you at Emory your freshman year and we had that huge buffet breakfast at the Ritz and then you said you wanted to take us to this really cool ice cream place that was going to be HUGE and we said, no, we cant eat another thing, and three ice cream sundae’s later at Coldstone (we should have listened to you!)…, you always had the best ideas for inventions, if only we had let you invent…Billy Joel music, you all went to the concert when I was on bedrest and you kept calling me and letting me hear him singing and then you downloaded me the concert afterwards (I cant bear to listen to it anymore). So many memories, our happiest time will ALWAYS be our childhood, all together, the original 5. I know how lucky I am to have had you, but I cant help but feeling so beyond unlucky to have lost you so early, I always imagined us together forever, and I know we are together forever, I know it, just not right here together where we want you.
You more than anyone else believed so much in the legacy of our family, and believed that we would all do such incredible things, i think this year my birthday wish for you is that we live up to your expectations of us, and that we make you proud every single day. I miss you more than you can imagine and love you so much forever and ever and ever. Thank you for giving me an angel in my stomach, I will protect it as you are protecting all of us. Happy Birthday my baby brother and guardian angel. Love you. Samantha
PS- Chase is making you a card tomorrow, he said he is going to throw it up into the air so it gets to you in heaven. Should we do that? I told him we will keep it here because you are here with us, always. Love you.
Jonathan was the most incredible athlete, known on the field as captain of the Horace Mann football and lacrosse teams as “Killer Kleier.” It was his passion and excellence in athletics that helped us to name the fund you are all supporting tonight – the Jonathan Kleier ’01 Lion Fund, named for the Horace Mann Lions, Jonathan’s biggest source of pride.
Off the field he was a teddy bear, so incredibly full of love, the sweetest child, kindest young adult, innocent, happy and hopeful, loyal, trustworthy, he saw the best in everyone. It is very fitting that Jonathan’s favorite of all the Ralph Lauren brand was the Teddy Bear line – he had t shirts, towels, bedding. Our boys Chase and Cooper are wearing teddy bear sweaters tonight. Jonathan gave the most incredible teddy bear hugs, he was strong and protective – my family always said if we ever got stuck on a desert island Jonathan was the one we wanted with us – you knew that he could save you.
We lost Jonathan completely out of the blue, at age 26, a little over a year ago, of a virus to the heart called myocarditis. A few months after it happened, my sister and I reached out to our friend David Lauren, because after calling every store and outlet, we were able to find very few teddy bear items, and we were hoping he could help us track some down. What came from that conversation is this most amazing shopping night, which will benefit Jonathan’s fund at Horace Mann. David, and everyone who helped put this evening together, especially Debra Kanibus, Laird Roach and Missy Pool, we cannot thank you enough – our family is completely overwhelmed with gratitude.
We also want to thank all of you for being here tonight -we hope you brought your credit cards to shop tonight, or buy gift cards and use them forever. There are also some very special Teddy Bear items that David was able to bring back to sell tonight, so we hope you will all purchase some in honor of Jonathan.
Although Jonathan is not here physically with us, we are completely positive he is still with us in every other way, and he is so incredibly excited that there is a party at the Ralph Lauren mansion for him tonight. Jonathan, as you always say “Love You!” The Family.
And now, we’d like to introduce the head of Horace Mann and our very close friend, Dr. Tom Kelly.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The Jonathan Kleier ‘01 Leadership Endowment was established by our family in the fall of 2009 after the sudden and heartbreaking loss Jonathan Kleier. While a student at Horace Mann School, Jonathan was legendary in athletics. As the beloved captain of both the varsity football and lacrosse teams, he was an incredible competitor and fearless leader who commanded the respect of everyone around him. He never gave up – in the last game of the season senior year, he played the game as though he was fine, but when he walked off the football field, we saw that he had cracked ribs and torn ligaments in his leg. Known on the field as “Killer Kleier,” off the field he was a teddy bear, and equally as fierce and loyal in his friendships as he was in the game. Jonathan’s passion was infectious; so was his smile and his laugh, which you could recognize from across a room. A teammate says, “without Jonathan, there would be no heart on the team.”
The first Jonathan Kleier ’01 Leadership Endowment was awarded to Freddie Adler, an outstanding and remarkable student athlete who took great pride leading his teammates in three varsity sports. Most important to us, everyone who knows both Jonathan and Freddie say they are remarkably alike in personality, leadership and heart – and that he was a perfect recipient for the award, one who would make Jonathan proud.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The year 2008 brought Americans the largest financial scam ever -- it destroyed the hopes and dreams of thousand of victims, the worst bilking, perhaps, in all of recorded history including civilizations and societies going back to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and everyone before, after and in-between. Bernard Madoff -- evilest man of many other evil men -- successfully dodged the great wit of all government authority, including the most astute division of government, the S.E.C. However, while mysteries like the building of the great pyramids of ancient
This is the 2009 terrorist. This is, Bernard Madoff.
-Jonathan Kleier, 2009
He was an astonishing writer. The first time he presented his play in our workshop, his peers were floored by the power of his words and his dramatic imagination. He wrote very raw drama, focused mostly on a group of fraternity boys, and his observation of them was exacting and precise. His honesty was incredible and savage; he observed and wrote about his generation with a special grace, but he never shied away from the uncomfortable parts of his world, the constant partying, the emphasis on appearance, the sometimes unfriendly interplay between young men and women. There was great strength in Jonathan the writer, and he showed it from that first moment in front of the workshop. He held the attention of the class like no one else, and he left us breathless that first day.
I will never forget it.
Emory Creative Writing Professor
He was indeed an incredible observer of his generation- and absolutely had a Larry David-like precision for diving into the comedy and absurdities of the world- in a younger version than we have really seen on TV. Really incisive, in a way that made me, as his boss and "elder sister-like stand-in" giggle at his portrayals of college life. But like his professor, I knew right away that this was a real voice and he had something to offer, something new.
Vice President, HBO Films.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I remember I gave you a card when you went off to college, I was so proud of you, and it was a long card, I always wrote long, emotional, sentimental cards, and I put it in your suit case, and you never mentioned it. And then after that, I don’t remember how many cards I wrote to you, while you were in college for your birthday, probably not that many, as I didn’t think you read them – you were a teenage boy at Emory – figured it wasn’t likely you wanted long mushy cards from your older sister. It was only years later, I think after you graduated and moved back home, that I asked you if you had ever read that card, and you said that you had opened it, but were too emotional to read it, and that touched me so much .Little did I realize how much those cards would have meant to you, how you were as sentimental and emotional about the Family as I was. I learned that really the most at my wedding, when you gave a speech about our relationship, and how much I had helped you, and so many people must have thought you were talking about drugs, but we knew you were talking about your relationship with Jen. How I wish I had a copy of that speech you gave to me at my rehearsal dinner. How I wish so many things, that I had written you a card about how I felt about you for all your birthdays, so that now I could have found them in your room and kept them always, (bc we now know you did in fact keep all the cards); how I wish most of course that you were in your apartment right now, and that I could call you and say “so excited for your birthday tomorrow cutie” and you would say in your adorable little voice “yea-eeees” and we would then hang up and say “love you” in your most special way, and be going to the palm tomorrow night for your 27th. And I wish I could write you a card and say how much I love you, and how proud I am of you, and how you are the best person in the family, the kindest, the most forgiving, the most thoughtful and loving and positive and hopeful, the most passionate, the youngest, that you have your whole life ahead of you, and don’t rush things. That I know you want to catch up to me and Sabrina, even though you are so much younger. You want to be settled in your career as a brilliant writer and possible director/producer, that you want to give back to the Family what you think we all gave you, that you want to continue the Family’s legacy as the younger generation, and most of all, that what you want most is to be a father, to find love and get married and have children. How I wish I could promise you that all these things will happen!!! And then I would reminisce how many birthdays we celebrated together, all your parties, baseball at HM, party rooms, jimmy nissenson and steven and roger coming, all our friends always loved you so much, and of course, going even farther back, waiting for you to be born, and the day you were born, being in the 5th grade and hearing the announcement “will samantha and Sabrina Kleier please come to mr fountain’s office” and the phonecall that you were born!!! I would reminisce about you choosing a car over a bar mitzvah (smart choice) and getting you gift certificates at first wok and roller blades and nintendos and game boys. I loved you not just as my baby brother, but felt like a mother to you as well. I loved you so so much.
All I want is to hold your hand and hug you, and protect you, and take back that morning, have you at the summer house, maybe had you been with us we could have saved you – I keep thinking that, I even had a dream we were at mom and dad’s, just the two of us, and you were in your Ralph lauren boxers and your teddy bear t shirt walking from room to room, and I kept following you, for in the dream I knew if I was there nothing bad would happen to you. More than that I just wish we could reverse the clock, and go back to when you were born, and start over, and skip over sept 5 and have that day never happen, and then I can get into bed right now, and call you, b/c you were always the last person in the family to go to sleep, and you’d probably have jay z on the stereo and be writing a scene or on the way out to meet friends, and I would tell you how excited I am for dinner tomorrow night, and to see you at the office tomorrow, and maybe discuss the screenplay you are working on, or tell you that chase has really grown up even this week after his sleepover at mom and dad’s – in your room - , he is different, and just wait till you see him. And you will say “I can’t wait to see him tomorrow night.” Oh Jonathan, come home, come back to us. Don’t leave. Let us celebrate your birthday with you please.
And now it is morning, and I want to tell you Happy Birthday Cutie, you wouldn’t be up yet anyway, so I will just keep thinking Happy Birthday to you, all day, and anticipating later this evening when the Family goes to the Palm to celebrate your 27th, and waiting for you to walk in the door, always a little late, with a big grin, and a big hug for everyone.
We love you and miss you beyond words.
Your big sister, Samantha
It is your birthday sweet angel. I remember counting down the days until you were born and going to Serendipity with mom for her "last ice cream sundae" each day the week before she delivered. I remember hearing your birth announced over the loud speaker at Horace Mann when I was in the first grade, and racing home to meet my new baby brother. I remember your kisses and your bear hugs, and your language badanguage. I remember birthday dinners at the Palm and Nobu 57 to celebrate your being home after college, and missing you so much when you were at Emory. I remember dancing with you at my sweet 16, and you taking the microphone to sing La Bamba when you were 4 years old at our cousins wedding. I remember reading your scripts that you were always so excited about, and getting a new album or book from you whenever you discovered a new artist or interesting idea. I remember YOUR ideas- because there were so big- everything about you was bigger than life. I remember how you never gave up and how you loved "the family", our family, more than anything and thought we could do anything. I remember your love for Chase and Cooper and your excitement for the "miracles" of their lives. I remember you, my brother for eternity, and I wish more than anything that you were here so that we could toast you on your birthday.
Love always, Sabrina
I saw you in the picture, every picture, and I love him (you) so much
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
When Jon’s sisters asked a few of his former teammates to write something about Jon, I imagine that there was a prevailing and consistent reaction. How can you describe the leadership that Jon brought to our team? I was at a loss for words. And then I read a story about Pat Tillman. Tillman’s former coach Dave McGinnis said the following: “I remember when he came to our team meal before played Seattle that weekend [in 2003], he just walked into the room and there was silence. The room was stunned. Everyone on that team respected him so much – and you’d have seen that respect if he went out and played again.”
That’s a lot what it was like to be Jon’s teammate. He walked into a room and instantly the room was silent because we knew what a fierce competitor he was. We knew how much he wanted to win and we didn’t want to let him down. For that, Jon commanded the respect of his teammates and friends. As I think about my own football career at Horace Mann, I am reminded that it would have been quite different without Jon:
• There would be no trips down the hill as we snuck away from the two-a-day practices in the summer
• There would be no rants from coach Colandros as he yelled at Jon during the Monday afternoon practices: “Come on Kleier, sweat out the weekend’s festivities!”
• There would be no league championship game against Dalton in 2000
• And worst of all, there would be no heart on the team
Everyone who played with Jon would invariably agree on one simple fact. He was always someone you wanted on your team. Jon, we’ll all miss you. And we all thank you for the ways that you bettered our lives: in the classroom, in the cafeteria and, most of all, on the field.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Jon wasn’t some bubbly cheerleader, organizing bake sales and making signs out of poster board. He was a player. An athlete built like a medicine ball and that hit like a brick. In tackling drills, you would count down the line to make sure you weren’t set to face Kleier, because he was going to make you hurt. Snot bubbles were the standard.
Kleier didn’t take plays off. Not in games. Not in practices. And it wasn’t because he was kissing up to the coaching staff hoping to get more playing time. It was because he loved it. He loved everything about Horace Mann football from the contact to shouting out “Yeeeeeeeeaaaahh Lions” from the sidelines.
Jon was the rare breed of leader that led vocally and by example. You could always tell when Kleier blew a play because he would be absolutely destroying someone on the next play. For Jon, it was all about pride. He took pride in himself, he took pride in winning, and he took pride in his teammates. He expected the best from those who surrounded him and pushed them to achieve it. In the defensive huddle, he would look the line in the eyes and ask “who’s going to make this play?!” It wasn’t a question; it was a challenge. It was a call to action by the team’s leader to step up and bring it from whistle to whistle the same way he did.
While I miss Jon and wish he could be here today to bellow out his trademark “YEEEEAAAAH Lions,” I can take some comfort in knowing that when it comes to playing football, Jon passed with absolutely no regrets. He left it all on the field. He took on every hit like it was his last hit. He ran every play like it was his last play. He hustled every game like it was his last game. From the second he put on his helmet to the second he took it off, Jon did anything and everything he could to win. He was a champion. And now Jon can rest in peace knowing that there are some kids who played for Riverdale, Fieldston, and Dalton who walk with a limp because they chose to take on Kleier, rather than team up with him.
My advice to you all this day, as you get ready to take the field, is play like Kleier. Play loose, play fierce, play hard. Challenge yourself to make every play. Put some snot bubbles in a kid’s nose. Let them know that what Kleier stood for weren’t just the qualities of one exceptional athlete, but a football program that takes pride in every play, every snap and every hit. Go out there and play like it’s your last game, because when that game comes and goes, you’ll want people to be able to say this about you.
I also had the fortune of hanging out with Jon in Florida at the Boca Raton Beach Resort. On typical day we would wake up at 2pm, call each other, meet up by the pool, order breakfast and gawk at girls. When we saw a pretty girl walk by, jon and I would look at eachother, wink, and smile...that smile would turn into a laugh when we dared eachother to go over to her and say something embarrasing or to that effect. When the sun went down, we would retire for our daily naps. After that we would wake up for dinner and do it all over again at the bar that night, intermittenly driving around listening to Biggie Smalls in my car. Jon loved Biggie. He is the only person besides me who knew all the words to every song. We spent several weeks carrying on like this. Tough life for us as you can tell.
What is the message I am sending you? That Jon was nothing short of the man and his memory, all the good memories, should live on in all of you that knew him. For those that didn't know him, I hope I painted a picture so that you can imagine what an awesome guy he was. In the words of his favorite rapper: How you living biggie smalls? In mansion and benzes, giving endz to my friendz and it feels stupendous.
I hope you're living in mansion and benzes, Jon.
We all love you.
At least, that’s how most people who knew us both growing up over the 13 years we spent together at Horace Mann would categorize or relationship. Ostensibly they would be correct. For seven years, Jon and I shared sidelines together, shed blood on the gridiron together, and sweat bullets on the hardwood together. But this characterization would fail to encapsulate who Jon truly was. It would fail to describe just exactly what Jon meant to me. That’s because Jon Kleier was more than a teammate. He was also my brother. He was also my friend.
Jon and I shared a bond that grew from years of mounting mutual respect, understanding, and admiration. Contrary to popular belief, football was not the embodiment of our relationship. Rather, football was the catalyst that allowed a Jewish kid from the city and a black kid from Westchester to understand concretely what they both had known intuitively from the age of 6 and refused to acknowledge: We were scarily similar! I call Jon my brother because like a brother, our similarities in many ways were a source of friction. Jon had a burning desire to be the best….to impose his will on his opponents in all aspects of life. The problem was I had that same desire, and two young boys journeying together through adolescence while attempting to be the same thing or prove the same point is often a recipe for disaster. We had moments of frication, probably years worth if you add them all up. I look back on them with now with great fondness and a tinge of Sadness. Fondness that I could find a kindred spirit in a person the world may have viewed as completely different from me. Sadness because now, my brother is gone far too soon and I wish I had back those wasted moments.
As a child my father always told me to be my own man. Be the “lead dog” he would say, a reference to the Iditarod dog sled races I enjoyed watching (don’t judge me). The lead dog is the guide. It is the sheppard for the other dogs and even the sled pusher. Its relentlessness spirit forces every other dog in tether to push forward and endure. Years before PETA and Mike Vick my father asked me “Do you know what they do to the lead Dog when he’s no longer good enough to BE the lead dog?” Not knowing any better I responded “Move it to the back?” Of course this was not the answer. “No” he exclaimed. “When the lead dog can’t be the lead dog anymore, they shoot it….shoot it dead….because there’s no going back….because the lead dog refuses to accept any other position….because it would rather die than back down.”
While I don’t know about the efficacy of this practice (or even that it really existed) it is clearer now what exactly my father meant. In fact, I believe it is analogous to the early pitfalls of my relationship with Jon. For 10 years, we were just two kids trying to be the lead dog. For 10 years, we were just two athletes vying for supremacy, not because we disliked each other but because of the unwavering belief we each had in our own God-given ability. But something happened along the way: we learned to love and respect each other’s talents. We learned to TRUST in one another to paint a broader canvas and deliver a more polished result.
Jon Kleier taught me how to trust. With him I learned how to be truly dedicated to a cause greater than myself. From him I learned how to pursue a cause with reckless abandon, not because of what you feel YOU are capable of but because of the confidence you have in the dedication and ability of the man beside you.
As you take the field today with the number of our fallen teammate emblazoned on your helmet, I urge you to play the game as Jon Kleier would have played it. Play with unbridled passion. Play without fear. Take the tools you have been blessed with, the plays you have learned, the values that have been instilled in you and unleash them ALL together in a chilling display of euphoric vitriol and elegance. Perhaps more importantly, play with the knowledge of the life lesson that Jon helped me learn: the lesson of the Lead dog. Because in football, the lead dog is not just one man but 11 men trusting in each other. The Lead dog is not one man willing to die for greed or pride but 11 men willing to lay it on the line for their brother secure in the knowledge that he would do the same for you. Be the lead dog….Be the Lion. Win homecoming!!!
Let’s get it!!!!!
Joseph Pinion III
Horace Mann class of 2001
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Even though you didn’t think so - you did accomplish a lot in your short life.
You were popular your whole life and had good friends that cared about you
You had a terrific magnetic personality
You attended and graduated from one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country – Horace Mann – and you did it with a B average
You were an incredible football and lacrosse player at Horace Mann
You were also the captain of the football team and over the years became a legend at the school
You were not only popular with the boys; you always had plenty of girlfriends, one prettier than the other
You were a terrific writer and creator with a wonderful imagination
You interned at HBO when you were 19 and you were such a success that the head of original programming wanted to submit your script to the west coast for consideration
You attended and graduated from Emory University with a BA degree in Economics and Law
You joined the family business and made numerous suggestions in marketing and technology that were implemented and had a positive impact on the company
You loved and were loved by your family
You were always kind, courteous and generous
You always treated people with respect and dignity
You had so many people care about you that over 1300 friends and family attended your funeral
Your film that you wrote, created, directed about Bernie Madoff and that you worked so hard on, will be screened at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival this spring
You had a determination that was unbreakable
You loved life even when life was rough on you
You overcame many obstacles and still kept a positive attitude
You were a terrific son, brother and uncle
You were voted by the family the one person they would want with them on a desert island to protect them
You will be missed more than you ever imagined
And you gave the best hugs ever!
Not a bad resume Jonathan, for someone so young;
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I have written you so many of these cards – when you went off to Emory, when you graduated college, on big birthdays – always when things were changing in your life. I always wanted you to have a note telling you how proud I was and how well you were going to do where you were going. You were always my little baby – the baby of our family.
Sabrina and I begged mom and dad for so many years to give us a baby – you can imagine how excited we were when Mr Fountain announced over the loud speaker at Horace Mann for us to come to the principals office – I was in fifth grade, Sabrina in first, and you had been born! You were an angel from the beginning – gorgeous white blond curls, big blue eyes, you never cried. Our friends were also your friends because they knew you from when you were born and remember you as a cherub.
We were the luckiest family because we spent so much time together – mom and dad took us everywhere– summers in Atlantic Beach, remember the summer mom and dad built the pool -you were two and got chicken pox and had to walk around in a bath robe and mittens so your wouldn’t scratch – mom had to barette your long blond curls out of your face so they wouldn’t stick in the calamine lotion! The summer of the ghostbuster uniform, you used to carry your “proton pack” around the pool in 90 degree weather, zapping ghosts for us! riding our bikes in the board walk, digging sand castles in front of Clearwater, baked ziti at mother kellys, going to nunleys amusement park. – I remember watching once Miss America, and you said to me, Sabrina and Mom – you could be Miss America – and you meant it. You were always so sweet. In winters we had so many family rituals, driving to Pittsburgh every thanksgiving to visit Meme and Papa, listening to Neil Diamond and playing the exit game, you in the middle of the back seat bc you were the smallest, Christmas vacation always at Ceramore – how we all loved the water slides in the pools, the fancy buffet breakfast, the virgin pina coladas, spring vacations in Palm Beach and then our very favorite Boca – our home away from home. Fancy dinners in the dining room there in jacket and tie; in fact when mom and dad finally bought an apt in Boca, you STILL got to stay at the Boca hotel - - you said that was where the social life was and of course you were right!
Then you got too big to want to spend summers with the family and off you went to camp, where you were such a star - we’ll never forget visiting you one summer – you had never even been on water skies, and there you were in the freezing water, zipping around the lake and doing tricks on your skies. You had no fear. (as you know, you are the only one in the family with no fear!!!). During these years, how you loved your roller blades, and sneakers, always new sneakers, and 86th street – where all your favorite stores are. When you were 12, you said that when you grew up you wanted to live on 86th street – and oh how this world works– mom and dad just signed a lease for a new apt for you on 86th st – you were so excited, we all were so excited to have you “back up town” from murray hill, closer to the family, and were packing things for you to move on there on September 24 – dad even has your old football helmut ready to go!
Horace Mann was the biggest part of all our lives – they were your glory days - you were a huge star there in so many ways – everyone looked up to you – Captain of the football team and Lacross – your nickname Killer Kleier was for good reason - Mom and Dad spent dozens of days in the emergency room with you those years. Remember one game you tore your shoulder out but still played for 2 hours in the rain, bringing the team to victory? And with school work, Sabrina and I always joked – we got off the bus at 4:30 and went right to our rooms to do our homework. You came home after sports or games at 7ish, had dinner, took a nap, probably watched tv, maybe opened a book somewhere along the way and STILL graduated top of your class and went to Emory! You always could do it all, and made it look so easy.
And then there was Jen – we were never so happy as when you were with her – we loved her so much, like a daughter and a sister, picking out Ralph Lauren pink cable cashmeres, teddy bears, chocolate covered oreos, we always hoped you would wind up with her, especially since her mother’s name was Michele!
We had the closest family in the world. In fact, we talked about the family with a capitol F like the Sopranos! Steven, who loved you and knew you since you were two, always joked that mom and dad were smothering because the 3 of us did everything with them and spoke to them 50 times a day. You were better than Sabrina and I – we don’t even get dressed in the morning without calling mom to ask the weather. But when we had our own babies a few years ago, he called and said “I need to speak to that mother of yours– she did something very right with all of you and I need to know her secret.”
It was so nice for you when Sabrina and I got married, because finally you had brothers! JP and Rob love you so much – you taught them so much about computers, the Sopranos!,different kinds of music, and JP just went out yesterday and bought one of the many books you told him would help with his writing. When Sabrina and I had babies you fell in love with them, and they with you. How many 23 year old boys are into babies? You are such a gentle kind soul. You are so obsessed with our young children. You have this very cool side -the one that most of the world saw – the one who drove a Mercedes SUV listening to blaring hip hop music, wearing your jeans around your waist, multi colored sneakers, baseball caps, always an ipod in your ears, the one who went out late at night drinking with friends and who drove to Chicgao on a whim in highschool to be in the audience for the Jerry Springer show. And then there is the other Jonathan who bought my mother a doll for her bed one birthday, and wrote me a card on mothers day that made me cry, who lay on the floor to have Roxy, Lola and Dolly kiss him, the Jonathan who sometimes asked our family housekeeper advice on what to wear on a date if his roommates weren’t home, who came to every family dinner at the Palm or meatball and spaghetti Sunday nights at mom and dads, the Jonathan who ended every email to the family with “Love You!” like you were singing. The Jonathan who came to mine or my sister’s house weekly to have dinner with us, play with the kids, watch bathtime, and always tell us how lucky we were.
We felt so lucky when you came to work with us, so full of ideas – you got us on twitter and google map and all these other high tech things that I have no idea what they mean but you had patience with me and taught me and never made you feel dumb. We loved even getting emails from you at 2 am when we were all fast asleep and you had your bursts of energy with something new for the website, or a blog mom should write, when we didn’t even know what a blog was! We just feel so lucky that these past few years we have gotten to see you every day at work! You had so much potential there.
Jonathan, I don’t think any of us can imagine this world without you. I am sorry this card has gone on so long, - if you were here you would edit for me! - but there is so much to say, and your time with us was too heartbreakingly short. Maybe you were too good for this world. You had so much unfinished business – so many scripts – you were just casting one with a cute girl, website ideas for the company. You were so young and innocent – 26 years old – a baby - but also somehow you were always an old soul. You are the sweetest, most generous, loyal, moral, most sensitive child in the world, not a judgemental bone in your body; no one gave a bear hug like you. You have the biggest heart in the world. You help anyone who asks, you are honest to a flaw sometimes, you touch people you have no idea you even touch. You look at life in the best way – with such hope – you called the birth of Chase and Cooper miracles, and they were miracles – we always thought we would have girls – now we know we were destined to have little boy angels who even look like you and will carry on your spirit. You have so much love in your heart, and so much excitement for the little and the big –the perfect salty pretzel, the newest pair of nike sneakers, frogurt at 40 carrots, the script that you finally perfected (and then changed!). Everyone in this room should be so lucky to have a tiny fraction of the heart and soul and honesty and innocence and goodness that you carried every day.
I told Chase that Uncle Han went up to Heaven and that we wouldn’t be able to see him anymore, but that we could speak with him, and Sabrina heard him in the kitchen last night saying to the ceiling “Uncle Han, Can you hear me?” I told Chase that you can hear us, and to keep talking to you. I continue to email you and leave you messages on your cell phone – I know sometimes you forget to check them, but please please Jonathan, check your messages now. Don’t forget, the whole cast of Seinfeld is going to be on Larry David! We will leave you a message with the date.
Ok our sweet boy that’s all for now. Always smile, always be happy and hopeful, and know that you are right here with us, here, forever with the Family, wherever we are – at 1125, at the summer house, in Boca. And where you are, let fluffy, daisy and lily find you– they are there waiting for you. And may you find a girl there worthy of your sweet heart, and may you have many wonderful children with her – you are going to be the best father. Good night our sweet angel. We love you always.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I feel so fortunate that I was able to share an education with Jon from 1985 at Horace Mann to 2005 at Emory. I am going to share some thoughts and memories of Jon during our high school years, as this is the time when I knew him best.
At Horace Mann, Jon was the Big Man on Campus. It mattered not whether we were freshmen or seniors, everyone in school knew who he was. He was extremely popular. I remember being jealous when we were 15 when the upperclassmen would drive him down the hill to get lunch.
Jon was the social organizer of our group of friends. He was the guy that put our nights together. He made the phone calls to the guys and told us where we were eating dinner and what club we were going to afterward.
His parent's apartment was a staple of our teenage years. Not only was his bedroom a meeting place for us before heading out at night, but his basement would be home to hrs upon hrs of basketball on friday and saturday afternoons.
Going out to the bars and clubs with Jon was always a great night out. His pickup lines were usually hilarious.Jon loved watching movies, Seinfeld, and playing Madden football. He also loved anything that was produced by Bad Boy Records. The kid probably knew every word to every song that biggie released.
He loved wearing Ralph Lauren clothes. Seeing Jon without a polo insignia in high school would have been extremely rare.
Jon's personality swung across the spectrum. On the one end he was an ultra competitive and hard hitting football player and on the other end soft and giggly. Of all the things when I think about Jon, what stands out most, is his smile. It was one of a kind. He loved to laugh and you could hear it from across the room.
Jon was a fierce friend. He would do anything for the ones he deemed worthy of being his friend. I will always cherish the great amount of time we were able to spend together.
Three things boldly standout when I remember Kleier:
The immediate thing that comes to mind is his laugh. Kleier’s laugh was involuntary and contagious, endlessly filling nights that we spent together. He appreciated and recognized the comedic awkwardness of day to day life, and had no reservations in pointing them out. If you spilled coffee on your shirt or stepped in dog crap, Kleier was the first person to tell you so.The next is his competitive fire. Between the goal posts on 246th St no one, and I mean no one ran the ball harder between the tackles. Junior linebackers would consistently walk off the practice field complaining about his hits and this kid was playing OFFENSE. He took no plays off. Our senior year, Kleier led the infamously abominable Horace Mann football team to an Ivy League Championship game against Dalton. After rushing for over 150 yards and two touchdowns (all the while playing middle linebacker) they tragically lost on a last second drive. What I remember has nothing to do with the score but my brother, a freshman on the team who Jon always looked out for, telling me how Jon wept afterwards, unable to walk off the field for some time. His passion inspired coaches and student athletes and took Horace Mann football to an emotional place it had never been before.
The last is his presence. Over the last day our Horace Mann crew has not left each other’s side. Through the years we have gone through a lot but the look on people’s faces over the last 24 hours has been indescribable. We lost one of our boys. There are so many memories and as painful as it is to think about it that is all we have done. We have laughed and we have cried. What we have come to recognize is that we wouldn’t all be friends were it not for Kleier. Once you became friends with Jon, you were a blood brother in his mind. No one else’s opinion meant anything to him, his loyalty in friendship was unquestionable.
So thank you Jon, for everything. We will never forget.
Eulogy for Jon Kleier
8 September 2009
The important thing to recognize is that Jon’s death is a horrible tragedy, of course for us, his friends, but much more to him and his family, to whom we offer our heartfelt sympathy.
All of us at Horace Mann got to grow up with Jon through different stages of childhood.
The consensus of his former classmates I've spoken with in the last few days is that no matter what, Jon was a great person to have on your team. Whether in competition on the field, in debate covering topics from AP Econ to The Sopranos, and especially as a loyal, best friend. This kid did not lose. His capacity for hard work towards his passions was tremendous. This, in combination with his raw talent, made him a force to be reckoned with.
His appetite for competition was insatiable. We'll never forget his ability to convince an authority figure, girl, or barkeep of anything. Or how, with such ease and grace, he could trample through and over countless opponents on a crowded field, making it to the end-zone for a joyous celebration. It was these moments in which his teammates, spectators and adversaries were truly in awe of him. I saw him get knocked down ONCE. It was a hit and run by a taxi cab. Jon, of course, effortlessly stood up and laughed it off.
There are very few people with whom I could spend such extended periods of time without getting bored. Always interesting and interested in everything. He could make you laugh without saying a word. His personality was larger than life. His presence could not go un-noticed. He was undoubtedly the fun of the party.
He loved writing, comedy, socializing, technology and sports. He loved his friends and family. He was loyal and true. And he did whatever was necessary to accomplish his goals. This is a quality that I respect and admire. While some people may view it as morally flexible, I think it's often a characteristic that’s invaluable in a close friend. Having to write this and think back to all of our time together, I'm forced to realize how much of an effect he really had on my life, and I'm sure on the lives of all his loved ones.
Both through inspiring and encouraging me to take my work in different, new directions, and the countless times he actually got me out of trouble. He introduced me to writing for fun, as opposed to it being an assignment, in the summer of 2000. His good nature and logic kept me on the ground more times than I'd like to remember. He always thought things out and planned ahead. Last month we had a dinner at Mimi's, where our friends religiously hung out after school as long as we were still taking the school bus. We met to discuss our latest work, he shared with me his creative ideas and all that he planned to do and accomplish in the near future. Of course he guided me to do the necessary research and work to ensure that I’d be as productive as possible. And as always, tried to convince me of, and even teach me, the new computer technology that I should be using.
Clearly, one of the saddest elements of today is that Jon was taken far too soon. As I reflected on my experiences at these ceremonies, usually for a person of a more justifiable age, I thought about how often times a business partner of 20 years or long time friend would stand up and recount the decades of experiences they had together. I find a bit of comfort in being able to say that one of the beautiful things about the friendships we all formed at Horace Mann is that they started at the age of 3 and that the close bonds we formed have lasted more than 20 years themselves.
So while Jon's life has been cut terribly too short, It helps knowing that at an early age, we got to form the sorts of bonds that people look back on as the most significant of their lives. It’s not just I who can say this, but there are 20 or 30 of us in the room today who would tell you the same thing. Jon was loved by many and will be missed by all.
I stand here so depressed, not simply and selfishly that we'll never hang out over pizza and beer again, but more importantly, that we're all now deprived of the limitless creative works that could have been Jon's life. Constantly providing himself with stimulation and happiness, and that could have brought pleasure to so many others. I promise you, it would not have been ordinary. It would have been thought provoking, impressively outrageous, and hysterical. It would have been a fabulous adventure. This is our real loss.
Though, as we often say, the death of a person is supposed to be a celebration of their life - whatever life they were afforded to live. And we can all be happy knowing that Jon, I know for a fact, lived at least the majority of his time here, as a happy kid. Doing what he wanted to do. Embarking on great endeavors and adventures, never being afraid of anything. Succeeding at the types of triumphs that most people get to see only in the movies. Always trying to mix it up. He had fun. He played ball.
That is what's certain. When I knew him best, he had a life in which dreams come true. This we can be thankful for. Even amidst the tears of the last few days, there's been endless storytelling, with Jon as the lead character, and we're able to laugh. I'm sure we all have our favorite tales. I'm happy that I have such a good friend to remember.