Kathy Rothfels

Kathy Rothfels

Kathy Rothfels

1/4/1925 – 6/22/2019


Kathleen M. Clark was born in Essex, England, and grew up in Margate.  Her parents were keen golfers so she took up tennis – a sport more suited to her temperament and athleticism. As a teenager, she witnessed the Battle of Britain overhead and then the V1 and V2 bombings in London.  After the war she worked as a social worker, but left for Canada in 1952 to start a new adventure.  There she met John Rothfels, who had grown up in Germany and been a refugee in England during the war.  The two were married in 1953 and they moved together to Dugway, Utah, where John had secured a position as a civilian at the Proving Grounds.  They built a life together focused on being outside, playing tennis, skiing, hiking and enjoying their five children, Janet, Ian, Trevor, Martin, and Nigel.

In 1967, the family moved to Salt Lake to give more opportunities to the children and they found a home in Sugarhouse.  Kathy quickly involved herself in Salt Lake City tennis.  She became the Executive Secretary of the Utah Tennis Association in 1969, coached the women’s tennis team at the University of Utah, and, in 1973, became the manager of the Salt Lake Swimming and Tennis Club.  There, she organized all manner of new programs to get people out on the courts, including the annual Big Bird Tennis Classic that raised money for public television and an innovative wheelchair tennis program for Vietnam veterans that began in 1977.  Her own game was always impressive and in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s she repeatedly won national grass court, clay, and hardcourt championships around the US.  She officiated at the US Open and she was part of the United States Tennis Association’s Marble Cup team that won the international championships in Germany in 1990.  She was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Utah Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.

In her late 70s and 80s, Kathy devoted herself to coaching high school tennis and had the joy of working with years of students at West and Highland High Schools.  She loved being around younger people and in her 90s became a regular patron of performances at the School for the Performing Arts, the remarkable school that moved into the old Rosslyn Heights elementary school on her street.  She loved her neighbors and community and took a great interest in talking to people visiting her Little Free Library, which she opened on her 90th birthday in 2015.

Anyone who was ever on a tennis court with Kathy heard her say, “Good Shot!”  Kathy’s was a life of adventure and play and she died peacefully and comfortably feeling the love of so many people.  Good shot, Kathy!!

  • Paul Heath
    Posted at 15:42h, 10 July Reply

    What a beautiful obituary! I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know Kathy and John through Nigel. Their positive outlook on life is what life is all about and I especially enjoyed their wit and humor. My biggest regret is not visiting Kathy over the last couple of years as I know she would have enjoyed meeting our dingo dog Torrey. May we all strive to offer optimism the way she did and my love goes out to all in the Rothfels family.

  • Mary Keys
    Posted at 22:21h, 10 July Reply

    My condolences go out to the family. Kathy was an inspiration to all that knew her. I always enjoyed visiting with her whenever I was in town. I loved her and will miss our visits. Rest in eternal peace Kathy. May your aces be plentiful in the great beyond ❤️

  • JoDee Baird
    Posted at 05:28h, 11 July Reply

    She lived a champion life! So grateful for her positive attitude and love ? of life she shared with everyone. She was loved by the Baird family.!

  • Margie Mettenet
    Posted at 23:24h, 11 July Reply

    Always a joy to play tennis with Kathy! I will miss her! ❤️

  • Steve Allred
    Posted at 09:06h, 16 July Reply

    Kathy was always a joy and delight – happy and positive. I remember the days when coach Wilbur Braithwaite brought the boys up from Manti to play Kathy’s boys at the Salt Lake Tennis Club. She was first class and a wonderful person. Heartfelt condolences to the Rothfels family.

  • Ali Oliver
    Posted at 07:42h, 17 July Reply

    What a shining light in this world. I am fortunate to have met her. Much love to the Rothfels family – may your found memories of Kathy stay with you for all your days!

  • willow jeppson
    Posted at 10:23h, 18 July Reply

    Kathy was a remarkable woman! A great friend, athlete, reader, champion of young people, … the list goes on. Always a cheerful greeting and something positive to say. She always had some good book recommendations, and she frequently shared her insights and life stories with me and my children. She really respected children and made them feel important. What a sense of humor and constant optimism! My family and I have been so blessed to call her our friend and neighbor for 13 years. We’ve loved getting to know you, her wonderful family, through Kathy. She’ll always be in our hearts.

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