Clayton Klein, the legendary Walking Man, dies at 96

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece originally ran in September 2012. We are re-running it here today as a tribute to Clayton Klein, who died Sunday at the age of 96. You can check out his Facebook page by clicking here.


“Come walk with me across a century,” Michigan’s Walking Man Clayton Klein might say, as he invites us to celebrate his life and times in his newest book: My First 90 Years.

“Come Walk With Me” — Clayton Klein, the Walking Man inspires Michiganians ~ Walking Man logo art by Laurie McDowell

The author, adventurer, entrepreneur looks back from the grand perspective of a nonagenarian.

Follow this extraordinary time traveler (now 93), as he takes you on an incredible journey from his hometown of Fowlerville in the Middle of the Mitten to Mackinac, from Costa Rica to the Arctic Ocean.

Memoirs of Clayton Klein, Michigan’s ‘Walking Man’

Enjoy tales of exploration of far-flung frontiers, whether canoeing the vast wilderness of the Canada’s Northwest Territories and the Yukon, or piloting his Cessna airplanes over the mountains and jungles of Central America.

Klein is known throughout Michigan for his solo walks each September from 2005 to 2009 on behalf of Michigan’s Hospice programs – trekking 420 miles from Paradise on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day down through the heart of Michigan to Hell in Livingston County and beyond into Ohio. He continues to enjoy each Labor Day Bridge Walk.

A back injury suffered many years ago prompted him, at doctor’s recommendation, to begin walking. His back healed, Klein continued to walk daily, having now logged over 65,000 miles throughout Michigan.  His walks for Hospice inspired countless others to become more active.

At the conclusion of the 2009 Labor Day Bridge Walk, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm presented Klein with a plaque from the State of Michigan honoring him for his contribution to its citizens.

Clayton Klein, The Walking Man, with plaque from State of Michigan in honor of his contributions to Michigan Hospice and to inspiring creative, healthy living at any age.

The book highlights his youthful days growing up as a country boy, and later as a farmer, business man and book publisher – along with much local history of people and events during the  last nine decades. Throughout you’ll glimpse the strength and determination of a man who believed he could accomplish his dreams.

Klein comes from a family of  writers, and is author of several books, including Cold Summer Wind, recounting his Canadian paddling adventures, and  A Well-Kept Secret: From the Glory Years of the Detroit Tigers, about his late wife Marjorie’s friendship with the legendary Hall-of-Fame hero Hank Greenberg.

My First 90 Years is available for pre-publication price of $20. After Oct. 15 it will be $24.95, plus $3.50 for shipping. Checks and money orders may be sent to Clayton Klein, PO Box 968, Fowlerville, MI 48836. For more information, Email You may keep up with  The Walking Man  and his latest tales on Facebook at Clayton Klein the Walking Man.  The book is also available at Amazon

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About Susan Parcheta 106 Articles
Susan G Parcheta dreamed of being an inspirational writer, even as heading off after college to a teaching job. While teaching was not her passion, words were -- writing many years for Livingston newspapers, especially in the areas of education, health and wellness. The dream continues: to inspire creative, healthy living and to explore new concepts of body, mind, spirit. Her signature theme “All Things Beautiful” invites you to embrace the beauty and imagine the possibilities that life has to offer. She lives in Gregory with her husband, Jerry, and their fluffy, pointy-eared -- and always lovable -- cat, Spock.


  1. I first got to know Clayton through his book, Cold Summer Wind, about his canoeing adventures in northern Canada from back in the 1960’s. I was so intrigued that I did a search on his name and found that we was just getting ready to start one of his 400 miles walks through Michigan in his late 80’s! This was at a time our son was just starting college at CMU. He ended up spending a portion of a day hiking with Clayton as he came through the area. Both my son and made the trip from near Cincinnnati, Ohio to attend the Clayton Klein hiking reunion in June 2013 where I first had the pleasure to meet him in person. He was one special man and lived a life of experiences that most of us just dream about. May he rest in peace.

  2. Clayton was my neighbor for over 30 years and what a nice ‘gentle’man he was. He was also related to the mother of a high school friend of mine in Lansing. His stories about the UP walks home were always a treat. When he would go to Paradise 2 days before the bridge walk every year he would eat at the Berry Patch Bakery owned by my best friend and she would always feed him breakfast the morning he left for the walk to St.Ignace. She loved him just like everyone else that knew him did. It was not unusual to see him walking past my house towards his home at 7 a.m. on summer mornings–he had already been to Webberville and back….I will miss seeing him as I am sure many others will also. Dawn Whitmarsh

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