This page is dedicated to the memory of bridge players from Unit 361. These people contributed to the game of bridge and/or Unit 361, in their play and/or their service. Thank you for your presence with us, and may all of your finesses work at that great bridge table in the sky.
(best viewed on a computer)
Most Colorado players, and many others, have lost a bridge hand or several to Grand Life Master Chuck Henke. Chuck won the Blue Ribbon Pairs in 1965 with John Moran, and became a Grand Life Master in 2010.
Chuck began playing professionally in the 1950s and was one of the major players in Colorado. He played professionally and for the love of the game in local clubs and tournaments. Paul Soloway once remarked that he'd never gotten a good board from Chuck.
Whatever Chuck did, he did 1000%. He was an accomplished chef and a master gardener. His San Francisco friends remember him as also a world-class ballroom dancer and skater.
Frank played bridge in Denver in the 1970s. He was a schoolteacher and took particular interest in beginning players.
Lou Neff was an accomplished bridge player in Denver in the 1960s. She was active in promoting bridge in the area.
Susan B. Dittmer
Susan served as president of Unit 361 and took a special interest in newer players. She played on a team called The Four Susans: Susan Dittmer, Susan Grauer, Susan Reynolds, and Suzie Csikos.
Jan Penn Janitschke, of Littleton, Colorado, was the highest-rated Grand Life Master in Colorado for more than thirty years. Jan won four national titles: The Life Masters Men's Pairs with his brother Craig; the Grand National Teams with Craig, Dick Lesko, and Jack Bittman; the Grand National Pairs with Dick Reed; and the National Men's Swiss with Mike Smolen. He placed fourth in the World Open Pairs in 1983 with his brother Craig.
Jan was always available and happy to answer bridge questions, and mentored many players. He was soft spoken, calm, and generous at the table. In the world outside bridge, Jan was an excellent pianist who played seriously throughout his life, an avid bicyclist, and a member of the Heart Cycle Club.
Forest contributed his legal expertise to draft Unit 361's incorporation papers in 1976, then served as the unit's legal counsel from 1982 until his death. Forest attended – how many board meetings? well, 11 a year times 35 years is 385 – so more than 300 board meetings, plus innumerable special meetings, phone calls, and quick conversations here and there.
Forest brought a balanced, well-intentioned, calming approach to the issues he dealt with, and always had the good of the unit and the game in mind.
Sam began his bridge director career at the Bismarck Bridge Club in Bismarck, ND, where he grew up. As an ACBL tournament director, he oversaw bridge tournaments throughout the Midwest. He moved to Denver, CO in 2012 where he continued to direct bridge tournaments in Colorado and nationally. He could often be found at the local bridge club playing the game he loved.
He will be missed for his humor, kindness, and fair rulings by his best friend and significant other, his family, and his many friends and colleagues in the bridge community.
Norma was known for her creative and passionate presentation of the game. She continued teaching up until the week before her death. Even today, Norma’s students come up to Diann Miller (who worked with Norma) in the mall or grocery store and tell her how much bridge has added to their lives and how much they appreciate Norma’s teaching.
Bridge, other than her family and perhaps her music, was the most important thing in Norma’s life…and she wanted the world to love the game as much as she did. Norma began teaching professionally in 1984, and in 1993 she opened the Norma Sands Bridge Studio, the only full-time bridge studio in the United States. Her slogan "If you have an addiction, how about bridge?" was painted on the wall.
Not only did Norma teach bridge, she played it with zest. She attended most local tournaments, and over the years won the Colorado Victory Trophy and the Lou Neff Trophy.
Norma wrote The New Standard American Bridge Updated and Playing the Cards – introductory textbooks that were utilized by teachers and students throughout the country. With her friend Jan Janitschke, she wrote the Bridge Mini Series – ten booklets on important topics that helped students take the next step in their bridge development. In 2008, Norma and Jan developed a program on card play for Bridge Master. Both publications earned the ABTA Book/CD of the Year award.