Spotlight on Neighbors: The Klein Family
When Haile residents Kirk and Michelle Klein married each other ten years and one day after they began dating, they entered the ranks of the fortunate few who find their one true love in high school.
Natives of small Illinois towns, they met in the break room of a grocery store where each had a part-time job. It was at the end of Kirk’s junior year and Michelle’s sophomore year; Kirk worked in the produce department and Michelle as a bagger. “One evening I invited him over to my house to meet my folks and have pizza,” Michelle recalled, “and there was such a strong connection that I told my step mom, ‘I could see myself marrying this guy one day.’”
Michelle’s foresight would come to fruition eventually, but not before both attended Illinois State University where Michelle earned a BS in Marketing and Kirk a BS in Finance and Marketing. After graduating, they both worked in Bloomington, Illinois in their chosen fields for a couple of years.
During that time, Kirk met his future business partner, Will Olinger, whose father, Bill, was Bill Koss’ partner in a successful Gainesville wealth management firm. The two established a friendship that later led to Kirk being offered a position at Koss Olinger.
“When I flew down for the interview in January 1995, the weather in Chicago was minus twenty degrees with the wind chill factor,” Kirk remembered. “But it was seventy degrees in Gainesville, and we were out on the golf course the next day. Weather can be a powerfully persuasive factor.”
Strongly committed to their future together, Kirk and Michelle made the decision to relocate to Florida and arrived in April of that same year. In July 1997 they were married and three years later, built a home in Haile Plantation. Michelle continued her career working in the Florida natural gas industry for ten years before choosing to be a full-time mom to their children.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” she commented, “but with the birth of our second daughter, I decided it was more important to devote my primary energies to our growing family.”
Today the Kleins have two daughters and a son: Shailey, age twelve, Mackenzie, age nine, and William, age seven. All are students at Oak Hall School and are involved in dance, flag football, basketball, cross country, tennis, and volleyball, as well as academic pursuits. Michelle enjoys volunteering in different capacities at the children’s school and noted with a laugh, “I don’t know how it happened, but I’m busier now than when I was working full time.”
Finding a fulfilling niche at Koss Olinger, Kirk is a managing partner, CFP Practitioner, and Chartered Financial Consultant. Working with high net worth families and individuals with about half of the firm’s clientele in the greater Gainesville area and the remainder in over thirty states, Kirk develops comprehensive financial plans for wealth accumulation, preservation, and transfer in terms of estate planning. He finds reward in simplifying complex concepts and situations for clients, creating a sense of security for them, and enabling them to have peace of mind regarding their financial well-being.
“I’m energized by my meetings with our clients and endeavor to leave them with confidence, direction, and minimal worries,” he said.
Kirk also makes time to give back to the community, having served on the boards of the Rotary Club and Leadership Gainesville. He’s currently deeply involved with Junior Achievement. This volunteer-based organization’s mission is to educate and mentor young people on ways to cope and thrive in today’s business environment. Entrepreneur-oriented, Junior Achievement sends volunteers into schools (second to twelfth grades) to present and teach real-life lessons on how to enter the professional and vocational worlds and achieve their own goals.
Since Michelle’s grandfather was a Methodist minister and Kirk a life-long Methodist, they agreed, “Faith is important to us, and we want to pass that along to our children.” Kirk has served on the Finance Committee, and most recently, Kirk and Michelle co-chaired a three-year capital campaign that raised $3.4 million to pay off the church’s mortgage. It successfully concluded in June of 2014, “thanks to such a generous congregation,” Kirk noted.
Bolstering that theme, last December Kirk, Michelle, and their two oldest children traveled to Jamaica for a mission trip. They spent two days at the Westhaven Children’s Home in Copse, Jamaica, an orphanage for the disabled, ranging in age from toddlers to young adults. While there, they assisted house mothers with caring and feeding of residents, cleaned playground equipment, and participated in singing and sharing in arts and crafts activities. They also helped to paint the interior and exterior of a medical clinic and delivered school supplies to local school children.
“It was an amazing experience for our family, and we look forward to going back and doing it again when we can all go,” Kirk said.
As a departure from their busy work and school lives, the Kleins return each summer to Illinois to visit family, where cousins abound for their children to play with. They also try to go skiing in Colorado each winter and make sure to find time to spend together as a couple.
“Kirk and I feel it’s important to have some alone time together,” Michelle added. “So the grandparents very helpfully step in to care for our kids while we enjoy short, restorative getaways.”
Having built their first home in 2000 and moved into a larger home in 2007 as their family grew, Kirk, Michelle, and their children take full advantage of the area’s amenities, including country club activities, the golf course, the athletic center, the walking/biking trail and patronizing the variety of local businesses within Haile Plantation.
The Kleins have found here in Gainesville fertile ground in which to plant their strong, faith-filled Midwestern values. And through hard work, commitment to family, and dedicated service to their community, they are reaping a bountiful and rewarding harvest.