Richard D. Klitch - born 8-15-33 deceased 1-31-21. Dick lived a wonderful 87 years of life filled with love, laughter, family, friends, and sports. As a life-long athlete and tennis pro, Dick was more than a coach, he was a gifted teacher who taught life lessons through sports. He brought tennis, the sport that positively changed his life, to as many people as possible. Dick was the youngest of six, born to Herman and Ida Klitch in Portsmouth, Ohio. His humble upbringing instilled integrity, humility, grit, and an incredible discipline and work ethic. These values, along with a fierce competitiveness and desire to teach and give back, were defining characteristics of his life. He met Joan, his wife of 65 years, on a blind date at Miami University and their love story made national news when they made a bet that Joan, a Phi Beta Kappa student, couldn't beat Dick, a two-sport athlete described as a "rangy cager," by a full grade point. Dick proved to be up to the challenge by earning a 3.2 GPA. Joan paid up and the rest is history. Dick would later be inducted into the Miami University Hall of Fame in both tennis and basketball after a storied career in both sports, winning the MAC championship in basketball 3 out of 4 years and the MAC tennis championship his senior year in 1955. Other honors included Dick's induction into the Portsmouth High School Athletic Hall of Fame where he was the 1951 state tennis champion, the Flood Wall of Stars as a Portsmouth Ambassador, and also the Northam Park Tennis Wall of Honor in Upper Arlington. In Columbus, Ohio, where Dick worked and raised his family for over 60 years in the Grandview/Marble Cliff community, he helped establish the Gold Circle Tournament, later GCTA, coached more than 20 state champions (including daughter, Jenny, 1980), and developed numerous college and professional athletes. One of his proudest contributions was supporting grass-roots tennis programming that reached all communities throughout the greater Columbus area. Dick was a voracious card player and actively played with all generations of his family up to the very end of his life. It was a rite of passage to beat "the white-haired guy" at any sport, game, or contest, which is how he spent much of his life with his kids and grandchildren. Dick spent his final years with Joan in Austin, Texas, living with son, Tim and his wife, Barbara, graciously surrounded by love and support. Dick is preceded in death by his parents Herman and Ida, siblings Katherine Klitch, Mary (Klitch) Bradfield, Robert Klitch and William Klitch, his children Beth Klitch (Larry Kirkpatrick) and Michael Klitch. He is survived by his wife, Joan; son, Tim Klitch (Barbara); daughter, Jenny Klitch (Brad Sprayberry); and daughter, Jodi (Klitch) Bricker; sister, Ruth (Klitch) Snyder; grandchildren, Andrew Klitch, Matthew Klitch (Meaghan), Daniel Klitch (fiancé, Katie), Ryan (Molly), Colin (Sonia), and Austin (Maxie) Sprayberry, Natalie and Ella Bricker, Caroline Kren (Brian), Abby Kirkpatrick; and great-grandchildren, Jonathan, Alexandra, and Elizabeth Kren. A celebration of life will be held in Columbus, Ohio, at a later date when we can gather in person. In lieu of flowers, please consider paying it forward by encouraging, mentoring, or supporting a young person.
Published in The Columbus Dispatch from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7, 2021.