The funeral of Klaus Schulte, a member of the club since 1992 and a former chair of the international committee took place on Wednesday, June 29, attended by friends and fellow Rotarians.
Klaus, who died in April aged 81, was born in 1940 in Duisburg, a large city in the Ruhr area of Germany. His father was called up in the Second World War and did not return from a prisoner of war camp until 1948, so in his early years Klaus was raised by his mother, grandparents, and a childless aunt who he remembered very fondly for the rest of his life.
Following school he went to business college and through a connection of his father found a mentor who gave him practical experience.
During these years Klaus started to play tennis and with his long legs he became rather good. He amassed several junior and adult club titles, becoming champion of Duisburg and of the county of Westfalen. But most importantly during this time he met his future wife, Brigitte.
When an opportunity came to work in Sweden at the age of 22, the pair moved there, took Swedish lessons, and married there.
In 1967 Klaus and Brigitte moved to England. Working for Rehau Plastics, he was in charge of marketing and distribution and ultimately managing director. Always a hard worker, the firm expanded under his direction with offices in Manchester and Birmingham and production plants in Wales and Ireland, which forced him to travel constantly. Also, companies in the USA required frequent visits and he was often accompanied by Brigitte on these trips.
While Brigitte set up home in Maidenhead and concentrated on learning another foreign language Klaus joined the local tennis club and soon built a reputation as a fighter wearing his partner out by keeping the ball in play as long as possible. They made many friends and also took up golf together, joining Maidenhead Golf Club. Both became very competent players and enjoyed the social scene of the club.
In early 1992, Klaus was proposed for Rotary by the late Dr Lloyd Williams, and seconded by Colin Daniels, and was inducted by then President Howard McBrien, who had first met him professionally in his role as a solicitor providing legal services for Rehau.
Giving a tribute during the funeral service at Slough Crematorium, Howard said: “I was then a newly- qualified assistant solicitor with Ellis Bickersteth: however thanks to the near-daily contact with Klaus and his secretary and the constant stream of work, I gained enough legal experience that within a year or so Ellis Bickersteth offered me a partnership. My business relationship and subsequent friendship with Klaus
lasted for over 30 years and I am forever grateful that I knew him.”
Klaus served on the Rotary Club’s international committee, of which he was chairman for one year, and enjoyed the Quadrilateral meetings.
After retiring from Rehau, Klaus was actively involved with consultancies in countries such as the US, China, Ireland and Uzbekistan. He was a senior partner in the Anglo-German Industrial Development Company and travelled to many Eastern countries.
He retired from full-time work when Brigitte became ill and he devoted his time to looking after her. Her death was a great shock to him from which he never really recovered.
In his final years, Klaus was looked after by Peter Murcott of Thames Rotary and his wife Irmgard, Stephan Helal also of Thames Rotary, and Howard McBrien and his wife Inga.
He was always especially pleased to see fellow Rotarian and pharmacist Gurdip Bahra, who personally delivered his medicines and gave him his vaccinations at home.
Klaus wanted to remain in his home and for the last two years was also supported by carers from Home Instead.
Howard said: “I thank Victoria Morse, his main Carer, who managed to provide some much- needed normality for him by arranging for friends from Maidenhead Golf Club to visit and take Klaus out for lunch and a drink, invaluable after his earlier inconsolable loss of Brigitte and his hospitalisation.”
Gail Kemp, the celebrant who officiated at the service, said: “We will remember Klaus as an active and outspoken personality who behind his sometimes brisk exterior was a gentleman of the old school hiding his softer side.”