A Good Sport: Annual Sporting Clays Classic Remembers Alumnus Tom Klix

By Monica VanDerWeide, ’95

On October 16, alumni will have the opportunity to test their aim while also raising money for scholarships for Hillsdale’s shooting sports program at the annual Tom Klix Memorial Sporting Clays Classic. But who was Tom Klix, and what is his connection to the shooting sports? My conversations with alumni and College staff revealed a lot about the character of a beloved alumnus who was, indeed, a character, but also a devoted family man, friend, and successful businessman.

A 1975 alumnus, Tom was a member of Alpha Tau Omega and played football and baseball. His classmates remember his big personality and sense of humor. “He always told a joke or two,” laughs Claudia Menton, ’77. “He was a friend to all.” He also loved to gather friends together for activities. “Tom had a wide variety of interests and played a significant role in everything he did,” says Ed Gwilt, ’76. “I believe his favorite was social chairman [of ATO] as he organized events and got others to participate. Fines were sometimes imposed to those who did not fully support the activity.” “He started the annual ATO fall canoe trips to northern Michigan and the annual ATO Golf Outing, which continues to this day,” recalls Menton.

An avid music lover, Tom worked as a DJ at local radio station WCSR on Sunday nights, bringing his own collection of records to play. Throughout his life, he played in a number of bands, including The Jello Shots, which played at Hillsdale’s Homecoming in the early 2000s. Patricia Gardon, who worked in the Alumni Office at that time, recalls Tom’s energy and enthusiasm. “He was very high-energy, loved Hillsdale College and really wanted to re-energize the tent party and alumni participation in other college aspects,” she says. To that end, he helped bring in some of the big-name acts that played at Homecoming in the 2000s, including Mitch Ryder and Mickey Dolenz.

In addition to his interest in music, Tom also enjoyed skeet shooting and was among the first donors at Hillsdale’s John A. Halter Shooting Sports Education Center. One of the sporting clays stations bears his name.

Tom brought the same energy and love of people to his work as leader of his family’s company, Whims Insurance Agency in Rochester, Michigan, which has been in the family since 1917. “My dental office was insured by Tom’s company,” Menton says. “If I ever needed anything, Tom was right on it and so helpful. He was very personal in his work; there was never an 800 number to call but a direct line to him.”

Tom passed away on December 4, 2019. He is survived by his three daughters—Kaetlin, Lindsay, and Shannon—and eight grandchildren. In honor of his commitment to Hillsdale College and to shooting sports, Hillsdale is proud to rename its annual Sporting Clays Classic in Tom’s memory.

Please join your fellow alumni on Saturday, October 16, for the Tom Klix Memorial Sporting Clays Classic at the John Anthony Halter Shooting Sports Education Center. For more information and to register, please go to tomklixmemorialshoot2021.eventbrite.com.

Monica VanDerWeide is Director of Marketing Content for Hillsdale College. She graduated from Hillsdale in 1995 with a degree in English and German.