Joan and Dick Klitch were longtime residents of the Grandview Heights area, raising their family in a Marble Cliff home they purchased in 1966 at 1373 Cambridge Blvd.
Joan (née Smith) graduated from Grandview Heights High School in 1952, having participated in plays, talent shows, several sports, and cheerleading. She was also on the staff of the Highlander. Dick was a star basketball and tennis player at Portsmouth, winning a state tennis title in 1951.
They both went to the University of Miami where Dick played basketball and tennis, winning MAC championships in both sports. Joan excelled in academia, graduating with honors in three years. They met on a blind date in Miami and later got married.
Joan was one of four siblings. His brother, Eugene, who graduated from GHHS in 1946, was a four-year winner in football, basketball, and baseball and played professionally in the Chicago White Sox organization. His brother, Ed, graduated in 1947 and played basketball at Harvard where he captained the team in 1950-51 and was later drafted sixth overall by the New York Knicks in the NBA Draft in 1951. Her brother Terry, a 1954 GHHS graduate, graduated from the University of Chicago and, like Joan, was an exceptional bridge player, even running the Smith Bridge Studio in Grandview with their mother, Helen. For six years, Terry worked at the national headquarters of the American Contract Bridge League overseeing the tournament division before moving to California for a career in the technology industry.
Dick was also an avid card player, but was best known as a tennis coach. He was responsible for developing extensive tennis programming in central Ohio through the Greater Columbus Tennis Association, which he co-founded. The GCTA has a long history of organizing summer tennis for adults and children in the area.
He has also been the personal trainer and coach of aspiring tennis players, including more than 20 high school state champions and college and professional athletes. One of the state champions he coached was his daughter, Jenny, who went on to pursue her own professional tennis career, playing at Wimbledon and the US Open. She was featured in the March 1980 Sports Illustrated “Faces to Watch” section, which noted that she was the youngest player to win the Ohio State high school tennis title as a rookie in 1979. She retired from the Women’s Tennis Association and is the commissioner for the professional pickleball organization of Major League Pickleball.
Members of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society share with community members in the Tri-Villages grief at the news of Joan’s passing.
Joan was a quiet force in this community. She was active in the PTA, was a member of the GHHS school board and was clerk treasurer of Marble Cliff.
In the words of former Marble Cliff Mayor Kent Studebaker, “(Joan) served as the ‘hands-on’ to run the village on a day-to-day basis. She possessed a wealth of comprehensive knowledge through her various life experiences. She was always looking out for the best interests of the village.
Joan and Dick were life members of the historical society. Terry is a director emeritus of the society, and both of them were volunteers with the society.
Dick and Joan were married for 65 years and had five children: Jenny, Jodi, Tim, Beth and Michael. Tim was a three-time individual MAC conference champion at the University of Miami and played on the men’s professional tennis circuit in the 1980s. He was a commercial banker and became president of Comerica in Austin, Texas. Jodi (GHHS ’86) also played tennis in high school, as well as field hockey and cheerleading.
Joan was predeceased by Michael and Beth.
Joan’s obituary can be viewed at statesman.com/obituaries/paco0224211.