Like most other members of the Greater Cincinnati golf scene, Marianne Sahms knew of Janie Dumler Klare as a tough and accomplished competitor on the course.
Sahms was more familiar with other sides of Klare, especially as the mom of a player on Sahms’ Ursuline Academy golf team and as simply a gracious person prone to sending handwritten notes expressing gratitude for, in some cases, doing nothing more than your job or simply being you.
“I was cleaning out a drawer and I found five or six handwritten notes from her,” Sahms, the director of golf and administration at O’Bannon Creek Golf Club, said on a recent warm March 9th afternoon. “She was always sending handwritten notes about how she was thinking of you or thanking you for whatever. She said to me that she appreciated the kindness we’d shown her family at O’Bannon Creek. This was like a month before she passed away.”
Klare, named a Cincinnati Legend of Golf in 2018, died of salivary gland cancer on February 8, leaving behind her husband, Bob, daughters Abigail, Alexandra and Lauren, and brother, Martin. Mass of Christian Burial was said on February 13th at St. Susanna Church in Mason.
Janie Dumler Klare’s golf legacy is well-established. She played five varsity sports in four years at Summit Country Day before Camargo Country Club pro Dick Plummer convinced her to focus on golf. Sahms recalls that Klare spent one year at Purdue University playing on their women’s golf team, before transferring to Xavier, which didn’t have a women’s team. She had to play on the men’s team – including driving from the men’s tees.
“She wasn’t necessarily the most orthodox of golfers, but she had a great knowledge of her swing, and she owned it,” Sahms said. “She had great confidence in it. At the time, she was considered a long hitter. She really had no weaknesses.” Sahms, being a pro, she and Klare didn’t face off much on the course, which Sahms didn’t mind. “She usually kicked my fanny,” Sahms recalled. “I remember when she first came on the scene. She had a great game. Everybody was saying ‘Who is this and where did she come from?’ She started winning everything. She was quite a force of nature.”
Klare won the Junior Met twice, the Women’s Met in 1985 and 1989, but she considered her biggest accomplishments to be her statewide wins – the girls Ohio State junior, the Ohio State amateur and the Women’s Ohio State Senior Amateur.
“I’ve gone all the way up the chain,” she said upon being named a Legend of Golf in 2018. “That’s significant. I’ve lost more than I’ve won, but I’ve run the gamut, and I don’t know of anyone else who’s done that. I haven’t researched it, but I’ve talked to a lot of people, and none of them can think of anybody else who’s done that.”
Klare was as active off the course as she was on it. Besides coordinating the Legends of Cincinnati Golf program for more than 10 years, Klare also served on the boards of the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association and the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association as well as GCWGA president and past president and publicity chairperson.
Sahms recalls thinking how courageous Abby Klare was to take up golf because of “the bar her mom had set.” Sahms and Janie developed a friendship that led to constant trading of Facebook and text messages, along with the in-person contacts that go with a coach-parent relationship.
“Over the last 10 years, I think we’d gotten closer because they had three daughters who decided to go to Ursuline,” Sahms said. “I got to know Janie on a different level. I knew more about Janie as a mom. I remember thinking when she sent me a Facebook message that she needed surgery and treatment that cancer had picked the wrong person. It was quite a shock when things turned to worse. “The worst part was that the surgery did damage to her nerves and she was unable to play golf as much as she wanted. She needed golf to clear her head. It wasn’t about being competitive, but just about playing the game.
“I fully expected Janie to recover and get back on the golf course doing Janie things. She was such a ray of sunshine with her blonde hair and her smile. She could light up a room so quickly. I remember she’d reach out and say, ‘Who’s up for a quick nine. Anybody out there?’ She loved to play fast and have the whole course to herself.”
God Speed Janie Dumler Klare
By Mark Schmetzer