FINDLAY - Gordon M. Kleiner, 81, a pastor and administrator at the former Findlay College, who together with his wife owned and operated the Children's Corner Pre-School and Child Care Center for 18 years, died Thursday in his home here from complications of colon cancer.
Mr. Kleiner and his wife, Virginia, a retired public school teacher, opened their Findlay child-care center in 1984 to cater to mentally retarded children in the area following their own experiences caring for a similarly handicapped granddaughter, Mrs. Kleiner said.
They operated the child-care center, which "started as baby-sitting and then became a day-care center," until 2002.
An ordained minister who served as the pastor of a number of small churches in northwest Ohio and was the senior pastor at Cairo United Church of Christ in Cairo, Ohio, for 10 years, Mr. Kleiner also served in several administrative positions at Findlay College, now known as Findlay University, from 1956 to 1973.
"A steady and dependable man, his whole life was about God, family, and service to others," his wife said.
She recalled that Mr. Kleiner, a World War II veteran, always said that he was called to the ministry after returning from the war where he had seen action during the Battle of the Bulge.
"He said that he felt disillusioned when he returned from the war," his wife said. "He went through many years of being cynical about life until he found his calling to ministry and to service of others."
Born on a farm in Clare, Mich., Mr. Kleiner attended public schools and also worked with his father on the family farm. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 after high school and received a Purple Heart.
He returned from the war in 1945 and went back to work on his father's farm before receiving his bachelor's degree from Findlay College in 1956.
Mr. Kleiner attended Winebrenner Theological Seminary and then pursued a master's degree from Bowling Green State University.
"He was a quiet, kind, and gentle man, who was strong and hardworking," his son Kurt said.
He said that his father will always be remembered by his family and friends as a humble and remarkably caring man of God.
Mr. Kleiner was a member of the Hancock County Veterans Memorial Squad and served 10 years on the Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center board.
"He had a green thumb. Gardening was his passion. He often planted flowers and would go door to door trying to give them away," his wife said.
Surviving are his wife, Virginia; daughter, Melissa Kleiner; sons, Kurt and Karl, and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. today in the Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the College First Church of God at Findlay University, where visitation will be an hour before the services.