Joseph "Joe" Anthony Kleinrichert, 77, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully on Jan. 17, 2018 as his children held his hands. This followed a beautiful day of family visits and calls from those who loved him.
Joe was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the late Marie (Kappel) and Paul Kleinrichert. He was the sixth of 10 children who remain very close to this day. He was a bright, creative man who loved animals and the outdoors. He was an avid reader who was tall in stature, but soft in heart and always looked out for the underdog. He also had a way with words which was a source of constant amusement to his family. He enjoyed talking food and sharing recipes with his four brothers, when they weren't telling each other jokes (over and over). He also loved a good steak or freshly caught bluegill and a Manhattan while watching the lake or the river from his deck.
Joe was a prolific business man whose entrepreneurial spirit was born when he discovered as a young boy that he could earn extra money by shoveling snowy walkways for neighbors. His deep work ethic flourished into starting and growing many businesses throughout his life time, several up until his passing. His interest in the restaurant business first began when he worked as a dishwasher at Don Hall's restaurants of Fort Wayne at a young age.
Joe was a proud student of St. Peters Catholic grade school and attended Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne. After high school he joined the U.S. Army, where he proudly served while stationed in Mannheim, Germany, and was top of his class as a Radio Operator. He spent any spare time traveling Europe and indulging his love of history.
Upon his return to the States, Joe joined his brothers in the restaurant business, where his creative instincts and outgoing personality served him well. Together the Kleinrichert brothers opened many restaurants and taverns in the '60s, including The Cat's Meow, which was known for showcasing acts like Little Richard and Fats Domino. In the '70s Joe converted a industrial warehouse into a discotheque he designed himself. Named Shenanigans, it was featured on national television many times. Tired of late work nights, he took a new turn, aspiring to bring Mexican food into the mainstream in the '80s. He moved to Traverse City and founded La Senorita Mexican restaurants with his brothers, Ken and Don. The business grew to include 10 restaurants throughout Michigan. The brothers eventually sold the restaurants but retained the real estate. Joe went on to develop other real estate opportunities and spent part of his retirement starting businesses from scratch and sometimes turning over the reins to young entrepreneurs who would lease from him.
He took a keen interest in mentoring and using his experience to help others - as he had been helped and encouraged himself in younger days. He volunteered with Big Brothers and quietly gave to individuals and charities, always concerned that people had what they needed. He wanted nothing in return.
An avid fisherman and deer hunter, Joe spent much time with family and friends at his hunting property in the Upper Peninsula. Large annual family fishing trips to Canada were also an important tradition and provided many tales that are still retold. He enjoyed playing poker with his son and talking politics with his daughter. Teaching his children to fish and appreciate nature was an important part of who he was. He wanted to watch his granddaughters grow up and share that with them as well. His children spent countless hours in their youth talking about life, at his side on annual road trips to ski, camp and ride roller coasters at Cedar Point.
He retired to a home on the Boardman River, where he grew a large and diverse garden and orchard, sharing the bounty with friends and family every year. Joe raised chickens, bees and occasionally a little hell. He never did anything small, and his many projects, ideas and gestures of goodwill live on today in so many ways.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Diane; and nephews, James and Michael.
He is survived by his first wife, Marybeth Montgomery, loving mother of his devoted children; son, Andre Joseph; daughter, Inga (Chris Provenzano); two cherished granddaughters, Fiametta and Giorgia (who Grandpa called "Sweet Pea"); nine siblings, Theresa Granahan, of Indiana, Don, Rose Fishman, Ken, Angie Grove, of Michigan, Paula Stephanis, Jerome, Jim and Cecilia, of Florida; 21 very loved nieces and nephews; and his cats, Jake and Liza Belle.
His children would like to thank dear family friends and former neighbors on Spider Lake, Bruce and Gail Westover. Also, special thanks are extended to medical professionals, Andrij Lawrin, Roman Barraza and Laura Worthington for their amazing care, compassion and especially humanity - along with the staff of Munson Medical Center. Last but not least, they would like to extend special thanks to Joe's niece, Krina Kleinrichert Young - she and Joe always cracked each other up with their great mutual sense of humor. Krina went above and beyond when it was needed most by both Joe and his children.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 5:30 p.m., with visitation beginning at 3 p.m., at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. Gerald Micketti will officiate the service.
Please share your thoughts and memories with the family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
Published on January 25, 2018