Charlotte Kaup Kleeman, 1996 Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year, died Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Valencia. She was 85.
Kleeman was born outside of Chicago on February 15, 1937, to Walter H. Kaup, who was a locksmith, and Beulah M. Kaup. The family relocated to North Hollywood where Charlotte attended school. She later graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Kleeman was employed as a social worker before she received two teaching credentials.
In 1961, she married Frank L. Kleeman, who was was an attorney and later workers compensation judge. The couple moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1965 and made their home in Newhall.
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste remembers Kleeman as a tireless worker, who continued to give back, regardless of how many awards she achieved.
“You know some people, once they’re acknowledged, they’re done with the work. They just stop.” Weste said. “Not Charlotte. The more awards, the more accolades she received, and she had a lot of them, the harder she worked and the more she gave back. That’s what made her so outstanding.”
Weste described Kleeman as a very quiet, humble woman, who didn’t like to talk about herself. But she was someone who was extremely generous with her time and along with her husband Frank who passed away in 2016, the couple helped so many in the arts, in education and local nonprofits.
“You know, you can’t mention Charlotte, without mentioning Frank. They were just a remarkable couple, who worked extraordinarily hard to make this community a better place,” Weste said. “Even after Frank died, she continued to work hard, give back and be relevant. You know that really must have been hard on her considering the circumstances. We were really blessed to have her and she will be sorely missed.”
During the 1970s and 1980s, Kleeman served on the board of directors and executive board of the Boys and Girls Club of SCV where she was active in fundraising for the club. She also chaired the Ambassadors program of the SCV Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Ventress remembers Kleeman on the board of directors that hired him as executive director of the SCV Boys and Girls Club in 1985.
“They had a lot of questions and I had questions,” Ventress said Thursday. “It turned out to be a good fit for me and the club.”
In his 29 years at the helm of the club, Ventress remembers the first benefit auction he attended at CalArts.
“Charlotte was a great volunteer and put in a lot of hours,” he said. “She was just real and had a caring soul. The amount of hours she put in just can’t be measured.”
Carol Rock, a fellow Boys and Girls Club auction volunteer, said Kleeman was someone who was dedicated to her community.
“Charlotte was a lovely woman, generous with her time and talents,” said Rock. “It was always to benefit her community. She will be missed.”
By the mid-’90s, Kleeman had joined the board of the SCV Child and Family Center, the Santa Clarita Arts Council, the board of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, AAUW and the College of the Canyons Foundation where she served on numerous Foundation committees.
Kleeman also served as chair of Taste of the Town, the signature fundraiser of the SCV Child & Family Center; served on the board of the SCV Repertory Theatre; and was president of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center board for two years. She also served on the board of the Foundation for Children’s Dental Health.
In 2002, Charlotte and husband Frank were voted the “Philanthropists of the Year” by the Network of California Community Colleges. In 2005, Charlotte and Frank were honored as the recipients of the COC Silver Spur Community Service award. She was also elected to the Occidental College Alumni Board of Governors.
Gloria Mercado-Fortine, a friend and a volunteer alongside her for many SCV nonprofits, said Charlotte and her husband “were a wonderful team. They were so generous and giving of their time and effort.”
“The whole community loved them, she touched so many organizations,” Mercado-Fortine said. “She was a caring and wonderful volunteer in the community. She also had a great sense of humor and loved having a good time.”
She was preceded in death by her husband Frank in 2016. She is survived by son Jeff, daughters Shari, Robin and Suzette and numerous grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Friday, June 3, 2022, at 2 p.m. at the University Center at College of the Canyons.
Staff Writer Michele E. Buttelman contributed to this story.