Obituary of Klaus Kiess
Klaus F. Kiess Obituary: 9/12/31-11/7/23 (92 years old)
Klaus was born on September 12, 1931 in pre-World War II Germany. His father was a music teacher, and his mother was a homemaker. Their family lived a very modest life. As the oldest of 5 children, Klaus had to take care of his siblings when his father went off to the war. During the war, the family’s house was destroyed, and they had to rebuild. Klaus told stories of the difficulties living in post WW II Germany.
To support the family, the children all played different musical instruments, and Klaus played the flute. They played at weddings and other events. Klaus also learned the craft of cabinet making, beginning as an apprentice and working his way up to a Master Carpenter.
As a young man, he enjoyed playing many sports, including handball. A very accomplished skier, he enjoyed skiing all the major slopes in Europe.
Seeking better opportunities in the United States, Klaus left Germany on a Sunday in 1957 to come to New York with very little money in his pockets, a few hand tools and a great skill. He went to work that Monday, and his career began that day. As a young, good looking and very skilled carpenter, he was the go-to guy for the difficult jobs, allowing him to move up in the ranks quickly. Some of his work was done for the Kennedy Family and ended up in the White House.
Living in Whitestone, Queens with a host family, Klaus quickly found new friends in the German/American community. He joined the German/American Ski Club and other groups to help him assimilate to the American culture. His outgoing personality and great sense of humor made him fast friends with many people. Eventually, he moved to Ridgewood, Queens with some of his new friends. He met Nancy Hotz in 1958, and they married shortly thereafter.
The young couple first lived in an apartment in Flushing, Queens, decided to start a family, and purchased their first home in Flushing. As a father of three boys, Mark, and identical twins, Ken and Kurt, Klaus wanted to provide for his young family and opened Klaus Kiess Woodworking in 1964. The business was located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and Nancy did the office work. Klaus Kiess Woodworking catered to the wealthy Upper East Side clientele. With his heavy German accent and strong opinion on how things should be done, Klaus was the prototypical craftsman people wanted in their homes. He developed relationships with some of the top interior designers, worked for many celebrities and was often featured in Architectural Digest Magazine.
In the early 70’s, in a men’s sports league, Klaus was playing badminton at Manhasset High School and was told Manhasset was a nice town to raise a family. In May of 1971, the family bought a house in Manhasset. With his talent and woodworking skills, Klaus did many improvements to their home. Klaus was hired by a group of his German friends to help build a restaurant in Ridgewood, Queens called Zum Stammtisch, which still exists today. He then built the basement in their house to look exactly like a German restaurant, and this became the place of many parties for generations to come.
Seeking a nice place to take his family, Klaus joined North Hills Country Club. Very competitive, he started his lefty golf career and also played tennis. He later joined North Hempstead Country Club, made many friends there, and mastered his golf skills.
In the late 70’s, Klaus moved his business to Port Washington, NY which allowed him to transition his work clientele from Manhattan to the Gold Coast of Long Island. This also gave him more time at home and allowed him to watch his children play their high school sports.
Due to the physical wear and tear of the job, Klaus retired in his early sixties. At that time, his sons were marrying and starting their own families. Through these marriages, Klaus was blessed with 7 grandchildren: Nicole, Ryan and Kimberly (Kurt and Nina) and, KJ, Jack, Maggie and Timmy (Ken and Allene.)
The grandchildren and his growing family became the focus of his time. Not only did he work on improvements for their homes, he became the Saturday night babysitter. As the grandchildren grew up, Klaus enjoyed watching them play sports and achieve other successes. He also enjoyed discussing their sporting events and adding his opinions.
For someone who never owned a dog, Klaus loved dogs. Every day for 14 years, he took Amy (Kurt and Nina’s Yorkshire Terrier) for a walk. He loved all dogs and would always pet and play with them…the family referred to him as the “Dog Whisperer.” He always had dog treats in his car and in his pocket. Sometimes on his way home from walking Amy, he enjoyed a “cold one” in town and continued to make new friends even in his later years.
Although saddened by Klaus’s passing on November 7, 2023, his family remains proud and blessed to have had him in their lives for so many years. He taught them all about humor, humility and the generosity of time.
It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish!
Klaus is survived by his wife of 64 years, Nancy Kiess; his sons Mark and Kurt (Nina); his daughters-in-law Allene Kiess and Julie Zier Kiess; his grandchildren KJ, Nicole, Jack, Maggie, Kimberly and Timmy; and his family members in Germany. Klaus is predeceased by his beloved son Kenneth Kiess, who passed away in 2016 at 52 years old, and his cherished grandson Ryan Kiess, who passed away in 2021 at 25 years old.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ryan Kiess Memorial Fund at www.RyanKiessMF.org (or check mailed to 108 Cove Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030) and Church of Our Saviour, Lutheran (check mailed to 1901 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, NY 11030). In subject line, please indicate “In Memory of Klaus Kiess.”