He died Wednesday, Sept. 20, at his home in Florida after a brief illness. He was 90 years old.
Dr. Kleit, MD, DDS, had a long and meaningful career in medicine.
After earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery and his Doctor of Medicine, he completed a residency in internal medicine and a research fellowship in renal medicine. He then entered the United States Navy and climbed through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Commander and serve as Commanding Officer of the Clinical Investigation Center of the Oakland Naval Hospital.
In 1967, Dr. Kleit officially joined the faculty at IU School of Medicine. Upon founding the Nephrology Division, he became the first Division Chief and served in the role for 22 years. He was passionate about delivering the best care possible and famous for his tough questioning of students and housestaff about his patients. His career at IU also included time as the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Interim Director of Hospitals, and Associate Chief of Staff. He oversaw Medical Affairs, Graduate Medical Education and Clinical Programs. He was instrumental in forming Clarian Health Partners (now IU Health) and served as executive vice president and vice president. He retired in 1999 with the rank of Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean Emeritus.
Away from his roles at IU and IU Health, Dr. Kleit had an incredible impact on renal medicine nationwide.
Through his advocacy and work with politicians from the State of Indiana, he helped champion the 1972 congressional legislation authorizing the End Stage Renal Disease Program (ESRD) under Medicare, which extended Medicare coverage for dialysis. Prior to that time, decisions about dialysis were made by hospital based “death panels” due to the great cost associated with providing this lifesaving care.
He founded the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana and served on its board of trustees. The organization’s yearly educational symposium is named for him. He was also chair of the Medical Advisory Board for the U.S. National Kidney Foundation, serving as the vice president and president, and helped launch its scientific journal, the American Journal of Kidney Disease. He was chair of the National Kidney and Urology Advisory Board at National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney.
Dr. Kleit’s numerous awards and honors include the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Service Award of the Kidney Foundation of Indiana; the Martin K. Wagner Award of the National Kidney Foundation; Special Recognition by the American Society of Nephrology for Services to Nephrology; and the Certificate for Distinguished Services to Urology from the American Urologic Association.
He was recognized by the alumni of IU School of Medicine with the Glen Irwin Award for Distinguished Faculty Service. He was a member of the George Harrell Club of the University of Florida and of the President’s Circle of Indiana University. He was also given the Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the highest honors given by the Governor of Indiana. Earlier this year Dr. Kleit was recognized by the School of Medicine with the Ritchie Award for Outstanding Contributions to the School of Medicine by an alumnus.
“Dr. Kleit was an inspiring leader in the Department of Medicine and beyond,” said David Aronoff, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine. “His positive impact will continue to be felt for years to come. Our sincerest condolences are with his family.”
Dr. Kleit is survived by his wife, Cynthia; his sons, Andrew and David; and his four grandchildren.
More information about him and details on memorial contributions can be found on the website for Robert Schoem’s Menorah Chapel.