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Paul Kline Celebrates 90 Years with 340 Trees

phil kline family
From left to right at the family gathering: Carol (sister) and Larry Higgins, Kevin Kline (brother), Paul and Joyce Kline, Amanda Wilson, Tama and Joseph Kline.

By Linda Lane

Klines Resort was abuzz with hundreds of friends and family who gathered in celebration of Paul Kline’s 90th birthday party for coffee, tree planting and a luncheon. Paul’s love of trees spurred the theme of the birthday party. His family dug in to give him what he loved: new trees at the Klines Resort, located south of Vicksburg on Portage Lake.

A chilly but bright sunny spring day was perfect weather for hosting the event outdoors. The large gathering of people picked up shovels and spades to help plant one beautiful sweetgum tree by the Klines Resort clubhouse, 150 seedlings of spruce, pine, red maple, dogwood and redbud, and 25 additional donated trees.

While the 176 trees were planted on the family property, this green family went even further. They encouraged attendees to donate $2 to the Arbor Day Foundation, which will plant another 164 trees in Paul Kline’s honor in the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota. They far exceeded their goal of 90 new trees and between the two locations, Klines Resort and the Chippewa National Forest, 340 trees will have been planted in Paul’s honor – a perfect gift for a man who loves trees and, in good health at 90, can enjoy them.

Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate, many friends from Klines Resort and their church, and over 60 immediate relatives of Paul Kline and his family of eight kids, including his 95 year-old brother, Cernyw. Those invited to the party were asked to write or share a poem about trees during the celebration. Over a dozen people did so and the poems were read, including Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees,” and Phil Kline’s poem, “Dad”, which he wrote for the 90th.

Klines Resort was originally owned by Albert and Myrna Hines who bought the resort from a tax sale after the Depression. Paul Kline was a farmer in the Vicksburg area with eight children, Phil Kline being one of them. He wanted to purchase the acreage from the Hines to farm it, but the Hines insisted the large parcel remain intact. So Paul bought the entire piece, with the resort being passed on to Phil and Tama Kline, who operate it today.

Kevin Kline, Paul’s son, identified over 65 difference species of trees on the Klines Resort grounds, some native, some planted by resort residents, the majority of which Paul had planted. They put together a tree treasure map for the birthday party which encouraged people to explore the grounds and find the many different species. Both Paul and Kevin graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in agriculture.

The family purchased the 150 seedlings from the St. Joseph County Soil Conservation District tree sale. Just imagine how tall those 340 trees planted on Paul Kline’s birthday will be in another 90 years.

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