News and Tribune

September 30, 2013

Harold E. Kleinert M.D., 91; Jeffersonville

Funeral services for Harold E. Kleinert M.D., 91, Jeffersonville, will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7. at Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St.. Louisville, with burial in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville. 

He was born in 1921 on a homestead ranch in Sunburst, Mont., to Amil and Christine Kleinert. He attended Northern Montana College and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1943, and completed his M.D. from Temple University School of Medicine in 1946. He came to Louisville in 1953 as Instructor in Surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Dr. Kleinert established a distinguished reputation as a pioneer in the field of hand and upper extremity surgery and microsurgery. In addition to a large, internationally prominent private practice, he established the Christine M. Kleinert Fellowship in Hand Surgery program through the University of Louisville that has now trained more than 1,300 physicians from more than 50 countries. He also lectured and taught surgeons all over the world, and was the inventor of many hand surgical instruments, the double operating microscope, innovator of regional anesthesia for outpatient surgery, and a pioneer of the two-bed operating room.

He advanced to Clinical Professor of Surgery at University of Louisville until his retirement from active practice in 2009, and was named Clinical Professor of Surgery, Emeritus, in 2012.  Among his many awards were the American Medical Association Scientific Achievement Award, the Scudder Award from the American College of Surgeons, the Louisville Surgical Society Yandell Lecture, the Maimonides Award, and the Ad Astra Award for Distinguished Service to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He served in the United States Air Force (Colonel, retired) with 20 years in the Army-Air Force and Reserves and as flight surgeon for the Kentucky Air National Guard. He was National Consultant in Hand Surgery to the Surgeon General, United States Air Force. He was certified by the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, a member of many medical organizations, and served as President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Louisville Surgical Society and Jewish Hospital Medical Staff. 

Dr. Kleinert was a kind and gentle person, as well as a great technical surgeon and diagnostician. He will be remembered for never raising his voice, and as comical and fun to be around. His staff and peers only half jokingly said he was able to “lay on hands” because of the remarkable results his patients attained. His students were inspired by his bedside manner because he was so caring. He took time to discuss his patients’ lives and how they needed their hands to make a living. He cared for patients regardless of their ability to pay, often accepting an offered homemade dessert, knitted scarf, or antique trinket in payment.

In addition to his surgical practice, Harold reclaimed his agricultural roots with mostly friendly livestock, piddling in his sometimes abundant garden, and collecting orphaned cars and renegade tractors on his Southern Indiana farm.

Left to treasure his memory besides his thousands of patients, colleagues and friends are his wife, Sharon E. Stamper; children Harold L. and his wife, Jane, Robert Amil and his wife, Susan, Christine Schrodt and her husband, Randy, James M.  and his wife, Tori, Jean Rueff and her husband, Robert, and Louisa; his 14 grandchildren, Adam and his wife, Kristin, Katie Rhawn and her husband, Stockie, Alex Schrodt, Lisa, Grant Rueff, Michael and his wife, Julie, Matt, Kelly and his wife, Lizzy, Zach Schrodt and his wife, Ashley, Kristina Gillooly and her husband, Andy, Coady Brownstein and her husband, Alex, Carl Rueff, Lauren, and Alan Rueff ; 12 great-grandchildren and special dear ones, Jorge, Tara, and Harry Reis, and great-niece Ashley Grinnalds for her loving care. He is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.

Visitation will from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday, at Scott Funeral Homes North Chapel, Jeffersonville.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Christine M. Kleinert Institute, 225 Abraham Flexner Way, Louisville, KY 40202.