Mark Klempner Memorial

Gravestone of Mark Klempner at the Congregation Gates of Heaven cemetary

Mark Theodore Klempner died on March 3, 2019. He suffered a fatal fall while hiking in the Mt. Toby Nature Preserve in Sunderland, MA. He is buried next to his parents in the Congregation Gates of Heaven Cemetery at 2045 Watt Street in Schenectady, NY.

Mark was 63 years old at the time of his death and was known as a historian, musician, and social commentator.


Mark was born in Washington D.C., raised in the Bronx, and spent his teenage years in Schenectady, NY. He aspired to be a musician like Pete Seeger and took off across the country. He started by busking in Boston, and later reached the west coast, seeking enlightenment at a commune in San Diego. In Los Angeles, he worked at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore and the Walt Disney Company. He released two albums of his songs and performed as a studio musician.

Eventually, disillusioned by the L.A. music scene, Mark changed his life’s direction. He returned east to attend Cornell University on a Fulbright Fellowship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1997. Later Mark enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He graduated in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in Folklore. That is where he began his research on Holocaust survivors and rescuers, an oral history project which culminated in his book The Heart Has Reasons.

Mark’s passion for this topic was fueled by his family history. His father, Irving Klempner, was 11 years old when his Jewish family emigrated to the United States. They sailed on the last ship out of Poland before the Nazi invasion. Mark sought a way to transform that heritage of fear into hope for the future. He spent years interviewing and learning to understand a group of Dutch rescuers—-people who had risked their own lives to save others fleeing the Nazis. His book is valued as a primary source by oral historians.

During this period, Mark also worked as a freelance writer and commentator. His articles were published in the Christian Science Monitor and the Baltimore Sun , as well as on websites like , Common , and the Huffington Post . He also appeared on radio programs like Morning Edition on NPR .

Mark and his wife spent a decade in Costa Rica, where their children were born. They were divorced in 2015. For several years, Mark taught English at the Blue Valley School in San Jose. He returned to the United States, to Greenfield, MA, in 2018.

Mark T. Klempner is survived by his children and his sister, Diane Klempner, who manages this website.


You are welcome to email Mark’s family at
or write to them at the address below.

Klempner family
864 Whitney Drive
Niskayuna, NY 12309

You can also access Mark's Memorial Facebook Page and review his archived posts on Twitter. Thanks for your interest in Mark and his work.