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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

KLAIMAN, RALPH - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

KLAIMAN, RALPH (6 Dec. 1913-29 May 1993) was the founder of Bilt-Rite Fabrics and an avowed Socialist and civic activist.

Born in Cleveland to Manuel and Yetta (Bogen) Klaiman, Ralph graduated from Glenville High School in 1929. His first job was servicing penny peanut machines followed by a number of odd jobs. During World War II Klaiman worked for Eaton Axle in production of military parts.

After the war Klaiman went to work in his father's business, Built-Rite Upholstery at Euclid Avenue and Noble Rd. In the 1960's Klaiman opened his own business, Bilt-Rite Fabrics, at the same location. He created a new business by being the first in the area to develop the idea of selling fabrics for a variety of uses in interior design (instead of just upholstery) at discount prices. Bilt-Rite's success made Klaiman wealthy. In 1985 Klaiman sold the business to his daughter, Patricia. It is now located on Northfield Rd.

Klaiman and his wife, Lillian belonged to the WORKMEN'S CIRCLE, a secular Jewish fraternal organization which included Socialists in its membership. The Klaiman's published the Workman's Circle Newsletter which had Socialist leanings.

Klaiman donated much time and money to the community. He volunteered many hours visiting Alzheimer's patients at Menorah Park and volunteered for Cleveland Heights Meals on Wheels and the Cleveland Heights Hunger Center.

Klaiman married Lillian Revitch on October 8, 1935. They had three children, Kenneth, Conrad and Patricia. After Lillian's death, he married Virginia Chambers in 1991. Klaiman is buried in Workman's Circle Cemetery in PARMA.

Last Modified: 17 Jul 1997 04:10:38 PM

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