Leroy C. Kleinschmidt, of Middlebury, husband of Melanie (née Giguere), passed away peacefully at his home on January 23, 2021, at age 87.
A loving husband, father, and grandfather, Lee also loved sports. He followed the New York Yankees with devotion and could recount games, play by play, from decades past. Lee, a gifted pitcher, played baseball in college. An accomplished bowler earlier in life, he discovered tennis as an adult and never looked back. He played tennis into his late 60s as often as time and weather allowed. At family and church gatherings, he would demonstrate his renowned horseshoe skills. While serving in the U.S. Army in Thule, Greenland, Lee won a base-wide competition of 3,000 Army and Air Force participants.
A Waterbury native who attended Crosby High School (’51) and University of Connecticut (BS ’56, MA ‘68), Lee taught mathematics in Waterbury, first at Crosby High School and then, for most of his 33-year career, at Wilby High School, where he also coached the boy’s tennis team. Additionally, he taught at Mattatuck Community College and UConn Waterbury as a math lecturer.
A lifetime member of St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Waterbury, Lee served his church community for over sixty years in several leadership roles as Youth Director, Congregation President, Head Elder, and enthusiastic organizer and participant of the annual church picnic softball game. Always a kid at heart, he would surprise batters with grapefruits disguised as softballs. Lee served the wider Lutheran community as a member and New England District President of the Lutheran Laymen's League. He presented the LLL’s mission to congregations throughout New England and attended national conventions.
Soon after discharge from the army in 1958, Lee met his wife, Melanie, of West Hartford, during their mutual participation in the Walther League. They were married in 1961, making their home in Waterbury, where they raised their children, Gary and Karen. After retirement they moved to Middlebury and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe. Lee maintained his status as number one superfan of UConn basketball.
Besides his beloved wife, Melanie, Lee is survived by his children, Gary and his husband, Wayne Berger (of Needham, MA), Karen and her partner, Emet Rueda (of Middlebury); his grandchildren, Leah and Rachel Haxhi, Helena and William Kleinschmidt; former daughter-in-law Jane Knetzger (of Needham, MA); his sister Sandra Gade and her husband, Edward (of Oshkosh, WI); his sister June Stanton and her husband, Patrick (of Bloomfield). He was predeceased by his parents, Leroy and Elsie (Wall) Kleinschmidt.
A private funeral will take place on Tuesday, February 2, at St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Waterbury. Private interment to follow at the Middlebury Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Lutheran Hour Ministries, 660 Mason Ridge Center, St. Louis, MO 63141, or to St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, 503 Chase Parkway, Waterbury, CT 06708.
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