Jesuit Father John “Jack” H. Kleinhenz died on Nov. 22, 2018, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 97 years old and the oldest member of the USA Midwest Province.
Fr. Kleinhenz was born on July 16, 1921, in Cleveland. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and entered the Society of Jesus on Sept. 1, 1939, at Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio. He was ordained on June 18, 1952, at West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana. He took final vows on February 2, 1957, in Detroit.
While in the Society, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin from Xavier University (1942). He earned a licentiate degree in philosophy (1946) and sacred theology (1953) from West Baden College. Fr. Kleinhenz also earned a master’s degree in math from the University of Detroit (1966). During regency Fr. Kleinhenz taught math, Latin, and theology at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. After completing his initial studies, he cared for members of the Society as socius to the master of novices (1954-1956), secretary to the Detroit provincial (1956-1957), and socius to the brothers’ master of novices (1957).
Fr. Kleinhenz then began his 50 years of working in secondary education. He was the assistant principal of St. Ignatius in Cleveland (1957-1960), taught math and theology at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (1960-1962), and taught math (and was minister of the Jesuit community) at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School (1962-1963). After spending a year (1963-1964) completing his master’s degree, he returned to St. Ignatius, Cleveland where he spent 13 years teaching math (1964-1977). Fr. Kleinhenz taught for a year at Regis High School in New York, before returning to his alma mater where he spent the next 30 years teaching and tutoring math (1978-2008). He was a Detroit province consultor from 1995-2001. When Fr. Kleinhenz moved to Colombiere Center in 2008 to care for his health, he had spent a total of 46 years working at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.
Fr. Kleinhenz was an excellent math teacher and, after finishing his formal teaching career, continued tutoring students. His various apostolic assignments showed that he was a most available Jesuit. He seemed to know everyone in his hometown of Cleveland—especially the diocesan clergy—and attended many wakes and funerals of friends and St. Ignatius alumni. In his later years, he would celebrate the morning Mass in the student chapel at St. Ignatius High School every day. Through to the end of his life, he continued to regularly send short notes to people informing them that he was thinking of and praying for them.