The beloved mother of Kiss singer and bassist Gene Simmons, Florence “Flora” Klein, has passed away at the age of 92.
Klein was born in Jand, Hungary, and was held in Nazi concentration camps with her family when she was just 14. She managed to survive the Holocaust along with only one other family member, her brother Larry Klein.
She later emigrated to Israel and married carpenter Ferenc “Feri” Yehiel Witz. She gave birth to the couple’s only child — Simmons, who born Chaim Witz — 69 years ago, on August 25, 1949. The new parents had problems though and soon went their separate ways.
When her son was 8-years-old, Klein immigrated to the United States with him. She humbly raised the future rock star as a single mother in Queens, New York, while working at a button factory, according to Biography.
Fans of the reality television series Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, which aired for seven seasons on A&E from 2006 to 2012, will recall the family’s visits to New York to visit Klein. She spoke with a thick accent and always doted on her only child.
Klein’s cause and date of death is currently unknown, but tributes from her family members and those close to Simmons began hitting social media on Thursday, December 6.
The Demon’s wife, Shannon Tweed Simmons, shared a sweet picture of her husband, mother-in-law, and 29-year-old son Nick from when he was an infant on Instagram.
“Rest in peace my dear Flora,” she began the photo’s caption.
“The best grandma and mother in law I could ask for. You were loved and you will be missed.”
Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley shared a black-and-white photo of Simmons as a toddler with his beautiful mother and wrote a loving message on Instagram.
“I knew [Flora] as long as I’ve known Gene,” he said.
“Beyond her fierce love and pride in her only child she was his inspiration to live up to being worthy of the sacrifices she made in a very difficult and at times horrific life. A holocaust survivor she fought for all she had and her fierce protection and pride in Gene made her someone to be feared, admired and loved. I will miss her laugh and smile. Let us all say a prayer for her, Gene and his family.”
Earlier this year, Simmons called his mother his “hero” in a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald.
“She saw her mother walk into a gas chamber. Despite the tragedy, she is a positive person who sees the goodness in people’s hearts. I wouldn’t be that forgiving if I had lived her life,” he said.