Melville Barth Kleinschmidt, 86, Prairie Village, KS, passed away at St. Lukes Hospital on August 13, 2021 surrounded by his family. Barth was born April 19, 1935, in St. Louis, MO, to Melville and Hannah (Mortensen) Kleinschmidt. He attended Webster Groves High School where he pitched baseball. He threw the javelin for the University of Missouri. There he made lifelong friends in the Sigma Chi Fraternity and graduated with a degree in Agriculture in 1958. Barth married the love of his life, Susan Ruddy, after graduation. They settled in Prairie Village for 44 years where they raised three children. They were active in St. Anns Catholic Church where Barth dedicated his booming baritone voice to the choir and hosted pancake breakfasts.
An entrepreneur at heart, Barth sought ways to improve daily life through invention, actively pursuing patents into his 86th year. His eclectic career started at Pet Milk Corporation. In 1969 he opened "Alfies Fish and Chips" in downtown Kansas City, then ran a food brokerage business for 20 years. In the 90s he discovered that major U.S. freight companies offloaded undeliverable freight at SubTropolis. For the rest of his career he ran a wholesale reseller business out of a large warehouse in the Fairfax district.
He was passionate about sports and all forms of competition. He was part of the Chiefs Wolfpack, a group of hardcore fans from the franchise's early days at Municipal Stadium. Later he coached his kids in soccer and became a Kansas City Comets booster. He played softball and threw the javelin in 2 U.S. Senior Olympic Games. This self-described "Missouri Boy" converted to Jayhawk fandom as KU Volleyballs biggest fan when daughter Krissy joined KUs NCAA team. He intimidated Big 8 competition with his 6ft. 6" presence, beating an oversize snare drum, loud and proud, at games. He was given the nickname "Big Larry" by the womens team after the home court town of Lawrence, KS, a.k.a. "Larryville." His family continued to call him "Big Larry" throughout his later years.
Barth was a skilled fly fisherman from a childhood spent on Missouri rivers. He passed the love of canoeing and camping to his children and grandchildren. He was known to spin a scary yarn around the campfire. In 1983, Barth became part of the river narrative of author and fellow Mizzou grad, William Trogdon, a.k.a. William Least Heat-Moons 5,288-mile journey documenting life and Americas water-forged history in Riverhorse. Barth and a group rafted the Salmon River stretch of Heat-Moons adventure. During retirement years Barth and Susan relocated to Bend, Oregon, enjoying recreation along the Deschutes River and in the Sisters mountains with wonderful new friends.
Well all miss his big booming laugh, his disdain for cilantro, his love of pancakes floating like rafts in syrup and real butter.
He is preceded in death by Susan Ruddy Kleinschmidt, his beloved wife of 55 years, his parents, his sister and brother-in-law Judy and Al Burgess of Kirkwood, MO. He is survived by his children, John Kleinschmidt of Prairie Village; Kari Connor (Brennan) of Seattle; Krissy Willard (Kirk) of KCMO and six devoted grandchildren, Delaney, Riley, Flannery, Zoe, Oggie, Sylvie; Myer-Burgess nephews Bob, Bill, Brad, Bruce, Mike, Billy, Jim; and beloved Ruddy-Davis family: Barbara, John, Katie, Chris, Bridget, Tom, Jim, Kenneth. After grandma "Suess" died, Barth became the phone chatter, regularly calling his family.
A celebration of life service will be held in Kansas City on August 28 with close family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please donate your time to play a game of Bridge, Scrabble, Dominoes or Backgammon at a local Senior Center.