Remembering Robert Kleffel

Remembering Robert Kleffel



robert-kleffelRobert Kleffel, a beloved member of our community at Lakeside, passed away on April 4th at the age of 78. A native of Los Angeles California, Robert attended UCLA where he graduated with a degree in business. Until 1980 he lived in Santa Monica where he taught business courses at Santa Monica High School. Students at the high school occasionally asked him for his autograph because he was the regular stand-in for Clint Walker in the popular television series, Cheyenne.

After earning his Master of Science degree in finance from UCLA he became an instructor of economics and finance there. He also worked for the Beverly Hills National Bank as Director of Research and was a Planning Commissioner and Chairman Pro Tem for the City of Santa Monica. And, he still found time to sing in musical presentations alongside celebrities such as Jane Russell, Harve Presnell, and Connie Stevens.

In 1980, Robert and his wife Bonnie moved to Olivenhain, California where they founded Business Economic Services, Inc., providing real estate research, financial feasibility studies and maquiladora operations. Along with this business, Robert was a trustee on the board of Mira Costa College for six years and Vice President of Mainly Mozart, the leading classical music celebration in the San Diego / Baja California area.

In 2000, he and Bonnie moved permanently to Mexico where Robert quickly integrated himself into the local culture and the local communities around Lake Chapala. Almost immediately, he became a force for education in the Lakeside area, developing many educational programs and helping to provide financing and other resources for many scholastic programs and institutions. Particularly significant was his role in the founding of Instituto Technológical Superior de Chapala (where the new auditorium is named in his honor).

Those institutions he helped to raise funds for include The Little Blue School in Chapala, the kindergarten in Atotoniquillo, CONALEP, the Wilkes Education Computer Center in Ajijic, and the Instituto Tecnológico. Robert taught English Literature at Instituto Loyola; and he taught English at CONALEP, Instituto Tecnológico, Hacienda Federal, DIF in San Antonio, the Municipality of Chapala, and to doctors of Central de Salud, as well as to many other students and professionals, often free of charge.

To his family, friends, and students, he was “Don Roberto.” Robert also served on the board of the Association for Sciences and Humanities and on the Arts and Culture Board for the Municipality of Chapala which oversees the education needs of approximately 10,000 district students. Robert and Bonnie developed an education scholarship program which was able to send many students through school with expenses paid.

He was also active in the writers’ community at Lakeside. He often amazed his audiences by reciting his heart-filled stories solely from memory. He regularly wrote for area publications including El Ojo del Lago, Lake Chapala Review, and MexConnect. His wine column, “Grape Expectations,” appeared each month in El Ojo del Lago.

Robert is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Bonnie, and by his son Mark and his adopted daughters Karol Ramos (and husband Rommel Cedano), Iris Ledezma and Laura Ortiz and his grandsons Casey and Jose. A memorial was held at the Robert Kleffel Auditorium at the Instituto Tecnológico Superior on the Libramiento last April 28th.

Submitted by Mark Kleffel


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