IMH Editor’s Note: Michael B. Klein, 37, an ultra-successful businessman, and his daughter Talia Klein, 13, were killed in the crash of their private plane over a remote spot in Panama earlier this week. Michael Klein, who headed a hedge fund and was an early beneficiary of the first-wave Internet boom, has been written about by dozens of media outlets. Talia, however, has rarely gotten more than a footnote in these stories. In My Heart will focus on Talia in this story, including words from people who knew and loved her. Read a tribute to Talia Klein here (with a great photo by her uncle) by a family friend.

Talia Klein, 13, an award winner for her horsemanship for several years, and the daughter of millionaire businessman Michael B. Klein, died Dec. 24, 2007, in a private plane crash over a volcano near a Caribbean island resort her father owned.

Talia Klein was described by people who knew her as a sweet and hard-working girl whose dedication to horsemanship was remarkable.

“Talia was a beautiful, well spoken, poised and lovely child,” said Vanessa Brown, co-owner of Derby Hill horse farm in California. “We so enjoyed leasing her our horse, Brownie Points (aka “Teddy”), as her love for the horses was so clearly evident. She was a friend to so many kids on the circuit, including the like aged children in our own barn. A true competitor, she was also a gracious one with a kind word for all.”

Elizabeth Anthony of the Santa Barbara County Riders Club said Talia was well regarded and liked by the girls in the Santa Barbara horse community.

“All the girls knew her and saw her at the two large Santa Barbara National Shows. In fact, my niece was at the birthday party held in her honor at the ‘Turkey Show.’ The SBCRC family of riders will miss her greatly,” Antony told In My Heart.

Talia Klein had been placing highly and winning horsemanship prizes at least for the last four years. A full list of her accomplishments would be lengthy, but her award-winning performances include:

When news of her death was confirmed after the plane was found in rugged mountainous terrain, the leading horsemanship website’s forum quickly filled with comments from those who knew Talia:

  • “That is just so heartbreaking!”
  • “How tragic. My condolences to the family.”
  • “I am so sorry to hear this.”
  • “What a shock. I was reading through Yahoo News and came across the article…the name sounded SO familiar. Then it hit me, we were working an a deal for her to lease Jade last year. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about the family, and you can tell from the picture in the Yahoo article what a loving father and happy kid they must have been. So, so sad.”
  • “This is a true tragedy, and our hearts go out to the family, particularly Talia’s mom, who is one of the most genuine, caring, warm individuals I have met. So very sad. Such a tragic loss of someone so young.”
  • “I rode against Talia a few years back in some green rider classes. She summarily kicked my aged butt.”
  • “Talia was a wonderful girl who always had a smile and a kind word for her fellow competitors. We so enjoyed cheering her on, and appreciated her support of our riders. RIP Talia. You will be sorely missed ringside.”
  • “Gallop On, Dear Talia.”

In My Heart invites horseback riders, Talia’s friends and anyone who wants to comment on her brief and interrupted life. Please post a comment below or send it to us here at In My Heart, and we will post it for you.