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'It really, really hurts.' Family lived together, died together in condo collapse, including couple who married in May

The News-Press (Fort Myers) logo The News-Press (Fort Myers) 7/7/2021 Amy Bennett Williams, Fort Myers News-Press
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Editor's note: This story has been updated.

The seventh floor of Champlain Towers South headquartered a tightly knit family that has lost five members after the Surfside building collapsed last week.

Newlyweds Frankie Kleiman, 55, and Ana Ortiz-Kleiman, 46, along with Ortiz-Kleiman’s son, Luis Bermudez, 26, lived in unit 702. Kleiman’s mother, Nancy Kress Levin, 76, lived in 712. At the time of the collapse, her son, Jay Kleiman, 52, was staying with her because he was in town from Puerto Rico to attend a friend’s funeral. All have been identified among the dead by Miami-Dade police

a group of people posing for the camera: Together 10 years, Frankie Kleiman and Annie Ortiz-Kleiman married May 28, 2021. The couple died in the Surfside condo collapse. © Facebook Together 10 years, Frankie Kleiman and Annie Ortiz-Kleiman married May 28, 2021. The couple died in the Surfside condo collapse.

Published reports and social media paint a picture of an intensely loving clan. Though Frankie and Ana, known as Annie, had been together for about a decade, they only tied the knot May 28, said Annie's sister Nicole, who lives in West Palm Beach with their mother, Josefina.

“I would never imagine that this would ever happen to my family,” Nicole said. "One thing they would want me to tell you is that even though it really, really hurts, I know that they are going to heaven. … I know that I will see them again.”

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Frankie, a father of four, was thrilled that his daughter is pregnant with his first grandchild, the Miami Herald reports, and also was a devoted stepdad to Annie’s son, Luis.

Called Luiyo by friends and family, Bermudez used a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. He introduced his Saucy Boyz Clothing line a few years ago.

It featured his colorful, food-centered designs that appeared on caps and T-shirts, with socks produced by the athletic-wear company Zensha, where Frankie was a sales and marketing manager. Bermudez drew all the original designs by hand, even though his range of motion was limited.

a statue of a man sitting in a tree: Annie Ortiz-Kleiman, shown with her son, Luis Bermudez. Annie Ortiz, who married longtime love Frank Kleiman, was among those who died in the Surfside condo collapse. The couple married in May. © Facebook Annie Ortiz-Kleiman, shown with her son, Luis Bermudez. Annie Ortiz, who married longtime love Frank Kleiman, was among those who died in the Surfside condo collapse. The couple married in May.

“I’d like people to know … that with the right attitude, there are no limits," he told Puerto Rican journalist Lourdes Collazo when she interviewed him in 2018. On social media, he thanked his family for believing in him, especially his mom, Annie.

She and Frankie had recently partnered on a mailbox rental-notary-packing service business in North Miami, Frankie posted on Facebook, writing, "New venture, new beginnings."

Tower housed 'really tight group' of families bound by faith, Hispanic roots

Frankie’s mom, 76-year-old Nancy Levin, served as president and vice president on the board of the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association.

.The Herald said Levin fled Castro’s Cuba for Puerto Rico, where she married Saul Kleiman, the father of her two sons. After the couple split in the 1980s, she moved the boys to Surfside and to a “then-new building popular with Hispanic Jews who had come mostly from Cuba,” the Associated Press reported.

“The area was definitely close-knit ... a really tight group,” said Anthony King, Jay Kleiman’s longtime friend and high school bandmate, or, as Greg Levine, another longtime friend, describes it, "A highly interconnected, multi-threaded community of Latino Jews.”

Though the parents and grandparents of recent generations may have been born in Cuba or Puerto Rico, “their lineage goes back to Spain and South America, (and) everybody’s a cousin or a third cousin, and if they’re not, the family members are still all so close because they've all grown up together," he said. "The kids all went to camp together."

The group moved fluidly between the islands and Florida, but their bond was their anchor, Greg Levine said. "The point being, this is a close-knit, incredibly large group of people who are very, very interconnected.”

Katherine Kokal and Jay Rose of USA Today Network Florida contributed to this report. This is a developing story; return to news-press.com for updates.

awilliams@news-press.com

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: 'It really, really hurts.' Family lived together, died together in condo collapse, including couple who married in May

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