By all accounts Joan “Joni” Herschede was one of Cincinnati’s most selfless women. Before passing away in 2005, she gave back her time, talent and treasure to numerous causes around the city, most notably to the University of Cincinnati, her late husband’s alma mater.
“I like anonymous gifts. Sometimes, you know, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I just send things. People don't need to know where it came from. They just need to know that someone cares,” Joni told the Cincinnati Enquirer in June 2002.
Joni and her late husband, Mark Herschede, were avid supporters of UC Athletics, and donated generously to scholarships and the UCATS Club, where the Sixth Floor Lounge bears the Herschede name. Mrs. Herschede donated in excess of one million dollars to endow women’s rowing scholarships, well over a half a million dollars toward football scholarships and contributed another million dollars to the Athletics Facilities Renovation Fund, which provided for the restoration of Nippert Stadium in 1992. The stadium pavilion bears the Herschede name in honor of Joni’s overwhelming generosity.
In addition to her interest in athletics, Joni was a devoted patron of the arts, both at UC and throughout the city. She made contributions of time and financial support to CCM and DAAP, the Aronoff Center for the Arts, The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Museum Center, WCET and the annual Antiques Festival, to name just some of her varied artistic interests.
An astute and respected businesswoman, Joni took over her husband’s downtown business after his untimely death in 1976. She became president and CEO of Herschede Jewelers, and worked tirelessly for the preservation of downtown Cincinnati. Throughout her career, she served on numerous boards and councils including the Fifth Third Bank, PNC, the United Way Campaign, the Red Cross, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and Xavier University Business Advisory Council.
Joni’s contributions to the Queen City were recognized with several awards and distinctions. She was the 1992 Distinguished Business Woman of the Year, One of the Ten 1991 Enquirer Women of the Year, she received the University of Cincinnati Award for Excellence in 1985, and was named a member of the inaugural class of the Order of the Black Blazer, the highest honor presented to supporters of UC’s Department of Athletics, in 1994.