Beverly Klein was a mentor and trailblazer in the newspaper business

2022-10-22 18:34:21 By : Ms. Shinny Xie

When Journal Co. advertising department employees heard six-inch heels clicking down the hall, they sat up straight.

Customers calling to place classified ads waited on hold while employees fielded their orders. When the wait times got too long, an alert would go up and marketing boss Beverly Klein would emerge from her office and walk into the call center — the sound of her stilettos making her presence known.

"She wasn't there to criticize, or say, 'Work harder' or say, 'This is unacceptable,'" said Beckie Thompson, a former employee and Klein's granddaughter. "She was there to sit in a chair, put on a headset and take rummage sale advertising calls."

Klein died Sept. 29 at the age of 95. She retired from a 32-year career at The Journal Company in 1993 as the senior vice president of marketing.

Although she was a key executive, Klein didn't consider herself too important to help out with smaller tasks, said Sandy Wysocki, another former employee. "She knew that there was a job to be done," she said.

Klein began her Journal Co. career in 1961 as a classified ad taker. She was a young widow and a mother to five children. At the time, it was rare for women to have careers at all, let alone to become executives. But Klein quickly rose through the ranks.

"She was a ball of energy and very creative, very friendly," said Keith Spore, former Journal Sentinel publisher. "She was the perfect ad director. She could woo clients like no one else."

Often the only woman in the room, Klein had to carefully manage her workplace relationships. When younger women joined the company, she often took them under her wing.

When Wysocki was a young employee, Klein would listen to her attentively, regardless of who else was in the room.

"She was a mentor to me when mentoring wasn't even a thing," Wysocki said.

Known for her stylish wardrobe, Klein was proudly feminine in the workplace. Her experiences as a woman and a working mother also shaped her management style.

Klein told family how she supervised a woman who needed to leave the office early each day to pick up her child from daycare. Klein saw potential in the employee and thought it would be foolish to give her a hard time.

Klein was proud to say she never missed a day of work. But she never missed a graduation or a grandparents' day at school either, said Thompson. She had 12 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

"For the big job that she had and the amazing things she accomplished, her greatest job of all, in her heart, was her family," Thompson said.

Klein was also involved in the community. She served on the boards of the Milwaukee Symphony League and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation.

She was also a strong believer in education. Her family suggested donating to Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in her memory.

She was proceeded in death by her son Thom, daughter Mary Pat Pfeil and a granddaughter. She is survived by her children, Kathleen Ramstack, Dennis Klein and Maureen Lager.

A visitation will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. followed by an 11:45 a.m. service at Christ King Catholic Church, 2612 N. Swan Blvd. in Wauwatosa.