As a student at Patterson High my interaction with Dave Klein was limited to only what I had heard of the man growing up. Naturally I viewed him as an arbiter of Tigers athletics and honestly had little to no interaction with him during that time. Following graduation, my younger self thought that would be the end of it.
Fast forward seven years later. I find myself revisiting the same institution as a newly hired reporter at the Patterson Irrigator tasked with covering sports. While there were a lot of new faces to me at Patterson High, Klein still remained.
I’ve spent numerous hours covering sports during the 2014-15 school year and beyond.
It felt like there was sparingly an event that Klein’s presence was not felt.
He very well may have lived at the school out of a secret bunker that connected the gym to his house, for all I knew.
Whether it was manning the sidelines Friday night at a Tigers football game, patrolling the gym his name now graces, controlling the clock at soccer matches, riding around in a golf court to help with cross-country, or watching his daughter carry on a legacy of softball coaching, Klein was there until the late hours of the evening. I sometimes didn’t know how he kept it up. His stamina and work ethic were unquestionable.
His devotion to the school and the maintenance of its identity was something that I never properly understood or appreciated as a teenager. He was rich with knowledge of local sports lore. Klein could tell you stories from across the decades of not just of Patterson High, but of the entire area. His appreciation of athletics was palpable.
Fortuitously a man I once had viewed as a well-respected authority figure as a teenager became an acquaintance, and I began to sense that the reputation that preceded him was well earned.
As a reporter I found him approachable and honest. Whatever conversation that wasn’t about the Tigers would often turn to local professional sports. It wasn’t uncommon for Dave to lead our conversations with “so what’s up with the Giants?” It was a topic always up for discussion and sometimes debate.
In time it became a welcome addition to have interactions and watch Tigers athletics with Dave as he spent the tail end of his score plus four of sunsets on the sidelines of PHS events.
Then the sun began to set on his career as an athletic director. Following his retirement in 2016, the renaming of the gym in his honor within a year was a warm sendoff for a true Tigers faithful.
As he battled with his health conditions in the years after, the regularity of his appearances became more limited, and it was a somber moment to recently learn he had passed away.
For my part, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know Dave as more than just the authority figure he was to me as a teenager, and to offer my condolences.
Dave Klein may not be with us in the world of the living any longer, but in my mind he will always be overseeing Patterson High with a careful gaze.