KEY LARGO -- When people describe Pauline Klein, they used words like unselfish and diligent.
The 85-year-old has served on multiple volunteer boards and committees for many years, garnering the pulse of the community.
Last week, Klein resigned as secretary of the Friends of the Key Largo Cultural Center after logging many years of service.
"I finally just had to let something go," Klein said. "It was getting too much for me to handle."
Her position has been turned over D.A. Aldridge, who Klein praises as an excellent choice to fill her shoes.
Despite stepping down from a position she cares for deeply, Klein will continue to stay active on the island. She also serves as secretary of the Key Largo Federation of Homeowner Associations.
At the Friends' last meeting, the group toasted Klein with champagne as she was presented with a plaque for her service.
"I was speechless and stunned. I couldn't talk because I was crying," she said. "These are wonderful people to work with. "
In her gracious modesty, Klein said her efforts were supported by many people.
"It's a real pleasure," she said. "It was a wonderful thing they did and every one of them deserve recognition."
One of Klein's many contributions to the community is her years of lobbying for a cultural center in Key Largo, which came to fruition with the county's construction of the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center.
Just this past year, Klein was trying to raise money for events at the center by serving as editor of a cookbook. She is also pleased with the county's recent acquisition of Rowell's Marina, which she hopes will draw money from other counties for events and festivals.
While moving forward, Klein will put her focus back on the local advocacy group, the Upper Keys Citizens Association, as well as her homeowner association. But she wants everyone to know she is not abandoning the local cultural center group. She encourages others to participate.
"It's something people can do that doesn't include going to the bars," she said.
Klein credits the late Dagny Johnson for inspiring her to get involved in local issues.
"People have to do things to improve their communities," Klein said. "Sometimes people have to lead them along."
Michael Chenoweth, an Upper Keys environmentalist, said Klein has done much for her community.
"She's a joy to work with and is very positive," he said.
He said Klein fought alongside Johnson to protect native habitat in North Key Largo.
"She's always looking at the comprehensive plan and ways to strengthen the county," he said.
Klein's latest run-in with county government has been over plans to build a controversial senior housing development down the street from her Stillwright Point home at Mile Marker 105, bayside. A final decision on that project from the planning commission will likely happen this spring.
The volunteer's work ethic is second to none, according to her friends.
"She is unselfish and giving of her time," local activist Kay Thacker said.