Vision for Sustainability

Celebrating Dr. David Klein's legacy in Charlotte County

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

A lasting legacy begins with a vision. For Charlotte County ophthalmologist Dr. David Klein, vision is his specialty, both medically and philanthropically.   

He is known throughout our community for his heart for giving, his arms for reaching out and undoubtedly his eye for the future. Dr. Klein told me recently, “I knew I wanted to be involved in the whole community,” upon his arrival in Charlotte County in 1979. “My springboard to that level of aspiration and attainment was United Way of Charlotte County,” Dr. Klein said. “This is where I learned the true meaning of philanthropy.”

KleinDr. Klein worked his way up the ladder as a donor, a community partner and eventually a board member with United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC). While he had inherent drive and leadership skills, he gives credit to the honing of his skills to the instruction and influence of some incredible men, including Steve Dobbs, Frank Lee, Bob Wenzel, Lane Diedrick, Mike Grant, Steve Vito and Tom Rice.

The key to Dr. Klein’s vision for UWCC was sustainability. Through his connection with a distant relative, Viola Odenheimer-Reiss, Dr. Klein was able to bring a significant portion of her charitable assets to support numerous local nonprofits several years ago. United Way of Charlotte County was blessed with $280,000 that helped with a down payment toward the purchase of our office building as well as seed money to begin an endowment. We are now successfully paying down our mortgage and have grown our endowment to nearly $450,000.

Dr. Klein used his keen foresight and the experience he gained as a UWCC board member to go on to lend a hand of legacy in other areas of the county. I do not have the column space to list them all here, but Dr. Klein noted that he is most proud of the accomplishments he played a role in at Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic and the Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida. These two accomplishments alone have benefited thousands of people in our community and will continue to have an impact for years to come.

While his service to UWCC as a board member is in the past, Dr. Klein is actively keeping an eye on us. He most recently served on our Foundation board, where he has stayed connected and informed on the endowment he helped to establish. His current vision is to see the endowment grow to the place where it will cover the cost of UWCC’s administrative work.

It is with great humility that Dr. Klein gives credit to the individuals who influenced him over the years and the organizations that did the same. But what I have seen is only a gentle shaping of the raw material for philanthropy that was always there. Dr. David Klein has always been a true gem and if United Way of Charlotte County had any role in helping him become the man he is today, we can equally profess to having been shaped by his influence on our organization.

If you would like to help us achieve Dr. Klein’s vision for an endowment that ensures financial sustainability for United Way of Charlotte County, please call our office at 941-627-3539. 

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at