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James R. Kline Jr.

James R. Kline Jr. observed 43 space shuttle launches as the chief finance officer for Lockheed Shuttle Operations at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"He could watch it from his office window," recalled his wife of 54 years, Kay Kline of Healdsburg.

Kline, who moved to Sonoma County after retirement, died Nov. 17 at his Healdsburg home after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Kline worked more than three decades in financial management for both Lockheed and Levi Straus & Co.

His family remembers him for his quick wit but also for his integrity and willingness to help.

"People knew that he cared," said his son, Dan Kline of Salinas.

Born in Denver, Kline grew up in Joplin, Mo., and graduated in accounting from Kansas University. During his sophomore year there he met his future wife, who was attending a neighboring college. After graduation, the couple married on June 14, 1958.

They moved to California in 1962, where Kline worked for Lockheed and completed his MBA at Santa Clara University.

After a decade at Lockheed, he became the corporate controller in San Francisco for Levi Straus. He worked there about 10 years, when Lockheed hired him back for good.

The last 10 years of his career were spent in Florida as CFO for the company's shuttle operations. He retired in 1997 and that year moved permanently with his wife to a home they previously had purchased in Healdsburg.

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