Robert Klein, the founder and chairman of Safeguard Properties, SecureView and Community Blight Solutions, died on May 3. He was 65.

Klein founded Safeguard, a property preservation business for the real estate owned housing industry, in 1990 after running businesses in the taxi and produce industries. Looking for a business that would allow him to spend more time with his family, Klein became interested in mortgage field services, the company's website said. He was the CEO of Safeguard for 20 years, before becoming its chairman.

He came out of retirement in 2013 to found SecureView and Community Blight Solutions and became a leading advocate for the use of clear boarding in securing abandoned and foreclosed properties.

Robert Klein

"He built Safeguard Properties from a company in his basement to the leader of the property preservation industry," a joint press release from Safeguard and SecureView said. "Additionally, he formed RIK Enterprises, a family office based in Cleveland.

"Associates of Robert expressed their shock and grief at his passing, and extend condolences to Robert's wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchild."

Among his other activities, Klein served as chair of the National Vacant Properties Registration Committee of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“He was one of the individuals most responsible for turning property preservation and field services from an afterthought into an industry, and I shudder to think how bad things would have gotten during the peak of the foreclosure crisis if it hadn't been for companies like Safeguard and their competitors to be there to work with the services and the asset management companies,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Carrington Mortgage Holdings. “Personally, I will always remember Robert in a hat; it was part of his motif. I don't think I ever saw him anywhere publicly without a hat on.

“I remember when I came into the business, right as the foreclosure crisis was heating up and with one or two years of real estate experience total, coming into a very insular industry, Robert treated me with a degree of respect and courtesy that I found just fascinating and I always appreciated that about him. He's somebody who will definitely be missed,” Sharga said.

Klein was the son of Holocaust survivors, who later came to the United States after the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, where they lived after the war, according to an obituary on Matzav.com, a Jewish community website.

He and his wife Ita conducted charity work in the Jewish community through the Robert and Ita Klein Charitable Foundation.

"Robert was extraordinarily family-oriented, taking great pride in the accomplishments of his family, and he relished spending time with them. He often described the dozens of photographs in his office of his loved ones as 'his fortune,'" the Safeguard/SecureView release said.

Klein, who also was known as Mendy, was slated to receive the Agudath Israel of America's National Leadership Award at the organization's annual dinner on May 29.

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Updated May 4, 2018 at 12:42PM: This story has been updated to include additional comments