Bonnie and Joseph M. Klein - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Joe and Bonnie Klein Athletic Scholarship Endowment Fund | Est. 2008
brick engraved with name Bonnie and Joseph M. Klein

Bonnie and Joseph M. Klein

Visitors to a small park at the north end of the parking lot at 31st Street and Riverside Drive in Tulsa will find a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a pioneer woman and child – “Crossing the Prairie.” That outdoor space took life when Tulsa community leaders Bonnie and Joe Klein donated 50 trees and park furniture to commemorate a wedding anniversary. Four years later, in 2007, the Kleins enhanced that gift with the sculpture commemorating their 50th anniversary. “We did this for our family,” Joe told the Tulsa World, noting that their grown children and many grandchildren enjoyed going to the park. “And we hope all of Tulsa will enjoy it as well.”

This gift to the community is one of many examples of the generosity of Bonnie and Joe Klein, who have contributed much to the quality of Tulsa’s life and growth. Longtime supporters of The University of Tulsa and Golden Hurricane Athletics, they generously provided opportunities for student-athletes by establishing the Joe and Bonnie Klein Athletic Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Until his death on Nov. 21, 2010, at age 79, Joe Klein served as CEO of Crane Carrier, a Tulsa-based business that is the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty, custom-built specialty vehicles. Together, the Kleins were well-known area philanthropists and civic supporters, and Bonnie remained active in organizations to which they had jointly devoted their time, talent and treasure until she passed away in 2022.

Although he was a native of Philadelphia, Joe Klein certainly qualified as a true Tulsan. He lived here for 40 years. He and Bonnie supported Tulsa arts, including The Tulsa Opera, The Tulsa Ballet, Philbrook Museum of Art, Gilcrease Museum and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. They were also enthusiastic about Tulsa’s Up With Trees program and were instrumental in purchasing a downtown location for the Up With Trees building, which is named in their honor. In 2011, Bonnie and the Klein children served as honorary chairs of the Up With Trees Green Leaf Gala.

Bonnie was a native of Arkansas, but she met her husband in San Antonio, Texas. They moved to Tulsa in 1970, and it was here that Bonnie embraced one of her favorite hobbies, gardening. Her home was included on the Tulsa Garden Tour, as well as the National Garden Conservancy. Before she passed away, she was honored with a number of awards recognizing her community service and philanthropy, including the Tulsa Hall of Fame (2017); The Tulsa Ballet Larkin Society; and she was named the 2020 Outstanding Philanthropist by the Eastern Oklahoma Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

As a couple, Joe and Bonnie enjoyed traveling and visited all seven continents. Along with family time, Joe also enjoyed trout fishing, golfing, and boating at Grand Lake. He loved fine wines and was a partner in Hurst Wine Distributor. Klein was active in the Golf Club of Oklahoma, Southern Hills Country Club, and The Summit Club. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Bonnie and Joe shared a love that lasted for more than 57 years. They lovingly raised four children and enjoyed spending time with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their later years.

This couple’s zest for life and love of their community continue to be remembered and treasured by their family and all those whose lives they touched. The Kleins’ generosity to TU student-athletes through their namesake endowment will improve the lives and careers of many young people who pass through TU’s doors and go on to make their own contributions to the world.