Retired Kettering Foundation VP and Treasurer Dies at 77

Retired Kettering Foundation VP and Treasurer Jim Schwartzhoff has died after a 15-year battle with prostate cancer. Jim served the foundation for more than 20 years before retiring in 2005. Bob Daley, who knew him well, has written a lovely story about our former colleague, which you can read below Jim's photo. Plans have not yet been made for a memorial service, but if you knew Jim, you may want to send your condolences to his family. James P. Schwartzhoff, vice president and treasurer of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation for more than 20 years before retiring in 2005, died at home under the care of Hospice of Dayton on June 25, 2014. He died one day after his 77th birthday. He had been battling prostate cancer for 15 years. "Jim Schwartzhoff was a key executive during a period of the foundation's significant growth," Kettering Foundation president David Mathews said. "The foundation family mourns his passing with warm memories of his professionalism and good humor." Mr. Schwartzhoff joined the foundation staff in 1969 as assistant treasurer and assistant secretary of the board of trustees. He became controller in 1971 and was elected treasurer in 1979. In 1983 he was elected vice president and treasurer. He became the foundation's investment officer in 2003. One of five children, he was born June 24, 1937 in a farmhouse without running water or electricity three miles outside of Wankon, Iowa. His father worked for Allamakee County maintaining gravel roads in the days before paved highways. His mother was a teacher first, then became a Registered Nurse. The family later moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mr. Schwartzhoff served in the U.S. Army in the 1950s. He was a clerk typist stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia and later was a member of a maintenance crew at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. While an accounting student at the University of Iowa in 1960, he married Mary Lou Hess. They lived in Cedar Rapids and he commuted 20 miles to the university in Iowa City for classes before graduating in 1962. For five years he worked in the corporate division of the Wisconsin Department of Taxation, first as a field auditor then as assistant chief auditor. In 1967 Mr. Schwartzhoff joined Mead Johnson & Company in Evansville, Indiana as manager of the treasurer's department. Two years later he joined the Kettering Foundation's staff. The fondest memory of his time at the foundation, he said, was managing the investment portfolio and managing construction of the foundation's office building in Washington Township during the mid 1980s. "Working on the building," he said in an interview a while ago, "was a great experience. I had never done that. I was a complete babe in the woods." His life was not all work and no play. He had many hobbies. For 25 years he and his family made annual skiing trips to Salt Lake City. He enjoyed running. He ran in nine marathons and participated in nine triathlons, the longest of which included swimming a mile, biking 35 miles and running six miles. In 2009 he took a 15-day backpacking hike on the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail. Three times — the last at age 70 — he rode in the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), the oldest bike ride in the country. He said he dipped the back wheel of his bike in the Missouri River on the west side of the state then rode about 500 miles to the east where he dipped his front wheel in the Mississippi River. Mountain climbing was also of interest. He climbed 10 mountains. He "summited" nine, including the tallest mountain in Colorado, but talked more about the one that got away. That was the 19,314 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. He made it to 18,500 feet where he became disoriented and dropped out. He said he was cold. The guide helped him zip up his jacket. He needed help getting a glove on one hand and gave up the climb when he couldn't get the glove on his other hand by himself. Foreign travel took the couple to China, Cambodia, Nepal, Tibet, Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Africa, South America, Argentina, Ecuador and Antarctica where he walked very carefully in the footsteps of the penguins. He was asked one time, why foreign travel? "We enjoyed seeing new places and different things and different cultures," he said. "I really enjoyed Nepal and was interested in the religion of Buddhism, their devotion, and learning how religion had affected their lives. I was so impressed with their devotion." They were frequent visitors to the Czech Republic where their son, Steve, and daughter-in-law, Eva, live. They visited there 10 times. "The beer is fantastic," he said, Mr. Schwartzhoff served as an advisor on investments to the Fetzer Institute and managed the investments for the National Issues Forums Institute. He had been a member of the Audit and Finance Committees for Grantmakers in Aging, a member of the Southern Ohio Pension Fund Investment Group and the University of Dayton's investment committee. In addition, he had also served as treasurer and a member of the board of the Foundation Financial Officers Group, Inc., as an advisor to the Investment Committee of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education and the Advisory Committee of JMB Endowment Foundation Realty Fund. Mr. Schwartzhoff is survived by his wife of 54 years, 7 children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. A memorial service will be scheduled later. -Bob Daley