Long-time Minot legislator dies Monday
Long-time legislator and former North Dakota House Speaker Matthew Klein of Minot died Monday.
Klein, 89, had represented District 40 in the North Dakota House from 1993-2016, serving as Speaker in the 2005-06 session.
Klein was recognized upon his retirement for his efforts in looking out for Minot’s interests during his 24 years in the Legislature, including advancing a new State Fair grandstand, new buildings at North Central Research Extension Center and an intermodal facility.
He served on the Industry, Business and Labor Committee, which helped legislate major changes to workers compensation. He served on the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, including as chairman for three sessions. He spent several years on the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission and worked for three sessions to get legislative funding approval for a new governor’s mansion, seeing success in 2015.
Current legislators who worked with Klein said they were saddened to learn of his death.
“Matt was an excellent Representative for the Minot area and North Dakota,” Rep. Larry Bellew, R-Minot, said. “Matt was a good legislator, but he was a much better person. We will all miss him.”
“Matt served District 40 admirably for many sessions,” Sen. Karen Krebsbach, R-Minot, said. “During his first campaign in 1992 when he ran for the House of Representatives along with Rep. Clara Sue Price and myself, we walked many miles, knocked on many doors and attended many events together. Matt was a very serious campaigner and Clara Sue and I had to constantly remind him to lighten up, enjoy it and to have fun. Matt had great respect from his colleagues and his engineering background was a great asset on many projects the state dealt with.”
Klein was most noted for his short floor speeches. His former colleagues recall the many times he would rise on the House floor and say, “This is a good bill – pass it” or “This is is a bad bill – kill it.”
“Matt’s no-nonsense, efficient manner made him an excellent Speaker of the House,” Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said. “It was a leadership position that was well deserved and he served our body and the City of Minot with honor and grace.”
In addition to being known for his short floor speeches, he also was known for his solid judgment, Krebsbach said. His recommendations weren’t questioned because of the trust he gained, she said.
“Matt was a fine gentleman, a great leader who will be missed,” she said.
“He was a good legislator who took me under his wing my first session,” Ruby added. “He and Clara Sue Price went to bat for me to get me on my preferred committees, which were the Industry, Business & Labor Committee and the Transportation Committee. I served with Matt on IBL and he would frequently ask if I had questions about bills. I was amused when he cautioned me to always be honest, which is what I had been taught from the time I was little. Matt said honesty was important to earn respect and credibility in the legislative process. He was right and was a good example to follow.”
Klein served in the Air Force during the Korean War. An electrical engineer, Klein had worked on the Apollo Spacecraft Program in California, the Minuteman Missile program at Minot Air Force Base, for the U.S. Army in Germany, as deputy base civil engineer at Minot AFB and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in managing construction projects. He also worked five summers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, doing post-disaster inspections.
Funeral arrangements are with Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot.