HEIMSCH, Evah Jo (Smith) – Evah Jo Heimsch of West Chester, Ohio, a lover of travel, took the final journey that awaits us all on Saturday evening. She was 91.
Wherever she went, Jo made friends: ship captains, retail workers, hairdressers, bartenders. She was known for her style and looked smart for every occasion. A long-time resident of Oxford, Ohio for around 30 years, Jo was a fixture at Miami University and served with a number of university and civic organizations. She enjoyed good food and cocktails, and remained current with local, national and world affairs.
Jo took frequent cruises, tours, and visits to numerous countries. As a member of the Travelers’ Century Club she travelled to over 124 countries on every continent of the world, including Antarctica. She always came back with souvenirs and plenty of pictures. People asked her why she traveled so much – “because it’s out there,” she would say, and because she wanted to experience other cultures.
Evah Jo was born in Hastings, Oklahoma to Barry Cleveland (“Cleve”) and Ruby Smith. Her birth followed the beginning of the Great Depression and the destruction of the cotton crop so her brothers always teased that her birth was either a third disaster or the beginning of better things. She was the fifth of six children and the only girl. Her brothers thought Cleve treated little Evah Jo like a princess, and weren’t sure she had been a good idea in the first place. The family lived on farms south of Hastings for much of her early life until moving to town, and Evah Jo graduated in the class of 1948.
In 1949, she moved to Columbus, OH and met her first husband Donald A. Johnson, who was an Ohio State University student. They had four children: Steven Eric, Douglas Allen (d. 1983), Nanci Lynne, and Donald Scott, all born in Columbus and after a brief time in Michigan, the family settled in Oxford in 1965.
She hosted a radio program called “On The Go With Jo” at WOXR in Oxford in the 60s, joined the staff of Miami University in 1968 and worked there for 25 years in various roles, serving longest for the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. Jo married Dr. Charles Heimsch, a Professor Emeritus of Botany at Miami University in 1974. She returned to school on her 40th birthday and continued part-time for 16 years until she achieved her Master of Arts in organizational communication in 1986. While at Miami, Jo served on several diversity and inclusion committees and many in Oxford, including the Oxford League of Women Voters, University Club, Oxford Winetasters, and Miami University Summer Theatre Advisory Board.
Jo moved to Hyde Park, Cincinnati in 2000 and to West Chester in 2008. After moving to the Barrington in 2013, she became a resident of the Legacy at Liberty Ridge in 2020. Her family would like to thank the staff at The Legacy for their excellent care.
She is preceded in death by her son Doug, her former husbands Donald and Charlie, and her brothers B.C. Jr., Curtis, Dennis, Jim, and Browning. She is survived by her son Steve and his wife Erika of Bend, Oregon; daughter Nanci Johnson (Plump), her husband David of Arlington, Texas, and their daughters Amanda and Allison (Moore) and her husband Spencer; her son Donald, his wife Rosemary (Rotuno-Johnson) of Fairfield, Ohio, and their children Michelle, Michael, and Matthew; and Ludvig Winterskov of Denmark, her travel companion and partner. Jo is also survived by her extended Heimsch family – Alan Heimsch, his spouse Debbie and their children Charlene, Richard, and Crystal; Carolyn Martinich (Julio, d. 2019) and her sons Justin and Jeremy; and Richard Heimsch, his wife Prudence, and their daughters Libbi Barrett, Kathleen Heimsch, and Hilary Heimsch Kozel.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Miami University’s Miami Fund in Evah Jo’s name at givetomiamioh.org.