Willi Klein - Pittsburgh retailer

Passing Date

Wilhelm (Willi) Klein, age 90, died April 15 of congestive heart failure.

Born in Kufstein, Austria, on March 15, 1933, he celebrated his 90th birthday with family and friends. He skied until he was 85.

Willi grew up in wartime Europe and spent his early years working in the family painting business. He was an accomplished athlete playing for the local pro soccer team for 10 years as well as winning the city ski championships 8 times. He was always in motion. He would work in Switzerland and catch the overnight train to play in a soccer game and then return on the evening train to go back to work.

In his early twenties, Willi moved on from ski racing and attended the Kruckenhauser Ski Instructors Academy and went on to teach skiing in Lech and Mayrhofen, Austria. In 1960 he came to the United States to teach skiing in New Hampshire, where he met his wife and partner, Linda.

Willi was the owner and founder of Willi’s Ski and Snowboard Shops. He changed, inspired, and influenced thousands of skiers and snowboarders throughout his life. He went on to open his first Willi’s ski shop in 1970 in Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania, which became one of America's largest premier ski and snowboard shops, winning the best ski shop in the United States 3 times. Willi and Linda they built a business and family but he never lost touch with his Austrian roots. Willi had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and adventure. He was often spending his spare time researching topics of interest and reading books. He loved cooking and experimenting with his recipes…perfecting his techniques and then improving on perfection.

Willi leaves behind his wife, Linda, two adoring grandchildren, Dylan and Anna, and two sons - Greg and Christopher, daughter-in-law - Kjerstin, and brother, Fred Klein.