Longtime D.C. resident Kurt Rieschick, who served as a vice president for the local real estate company McWilliams Ballard and who along with his husband traveled extensively to international destinations, including their favorite city of Paris, died at home on Jan. 16 of a heart attack. He was 50.
David Klimas, his husband and partner of 22 years, and Rieschick’s sister, Jacqueline Costell, said Rieschick appeared to be in excellent health and had no advanced signs of heart disease other than the fact that his father died of a heart attack at the age of 52 in 1998.
Klimas’s posting of the news of his husband’s passing on Facebook drew an immediate outpouring of messages of sympathy and admiration for Rieschick from dozens of people who knew him, including many friends and business associates.
“Today is my saddest day,” Klimas wrote in his Facebook post. “My beloved. My person. My number one. My best friend. My husband died early this morning from a massive heart attack,” Klimas wrote. “I will never be the same. I will never forget him. He was my life.”
Klimas said he and Rieschick had vowed to get married as soon as same-sex marriage became legal, and he said the couple did so when D.C.’s same-sex marriage law took effect in 2010.
Rieschick was raised in Columbia, Md. His sister said he graduated from Columbia’s Hammond High School in 1988 shortly before he attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Prior to beginning his real estate career with McWilliams Ballard, Rieschick worked from 1996 to 2000 as a product training manager for the Bureau of National Affairs or BNA, the then D.C.-based company that published newsletters and research reports on business, government, and academic related topics.
Rieschick traveled throughout the U.S. selling and teaching BNA subscribers about various BNA electronic publications and services as part of his responsibilities with the company, his LinkedIn page says.
He began his affiliation with McWilliams Ballard in 2000, according to a career summary of Rieschick’s tenure with the real estate company published on its website. The write-up says Rieschick had experience “across most real estate product lines, selling condominiums, lofts, townhouses, and unique style row homes.”
It says Rieschick, who had the title of vice president, managed “all aspects of the sales process from hands-on sales, marketing, broker outreach, sales reporting” and other aspects of the sales process. The write-up says he sold properties in the price range of $200,000 to over $2.5 million.
Klimas, who also works as a vice president for McWilliams Ballard, said that at the time of his passing Rieschick was acting as the lead sales agent for a new high-rise condominium apartment project near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium called Kennedy on L at 37 L St., S.E.
“We did everything together,” Klimas told the Washington Blade. “We worked together at the same company for the last 21 years. We traveled together. We did French lessons. We went traveling throughout the world,” said Klimas, who noted that Rieschick was especially fond of traveling to Paris and France after the two became fluent in French.
According to Klimas, his husband was a “huge” fan of Madonna.
“We saw Madonna around the world,” Klimas said. “We followed her concerts, every last one of them. And we saw her in Paris, Amsterdam, London, and Miami. We loved to travel. We traveled extensively,” he said in recounting Rieschick’s love for travel and for attending Madonna concerts.
Costell said she and her family, including her and Kurt’s parents, were supportive of his being gay and she, her husband, and her two kids welcomed Klimas as part of the family.
“I personally became a huge advocate for gay rights,” she said. “And then when I got married and had children, I wanted my kids to grow up with that love that I gave to my brother and all of his friends,” she said.
Costell selected her brother and Klimas to be godfathers to both of her children. At her request, the two attended and participated in her daughter’s and son’s baptismal ceremonies on separate occasions at a Catholic church in Baltimore with the full approval of the priest in charge, Costell said. The two kids were about three months old at the time of their respective baptisms in 2005 and 2007, with her brother and Klimas holding the two babies during part of the ceremony.
As a dedicated uncle, Rieschick, with his partner and husband, Klimas, at his side, stopped by her home nearly every holiday, she said. “I mean every Christmas, every single birthday, Easter – every holiday,” she said, that Rieschick and Klimas came over for a visit.
Costell said her brother’s untimely death has prompted her to consider taking action to encourage all public buildings and residential apartment buildings to have on hand a defibrillator, a medical device used to administer an electric shock to the heart to resuscitate someone whose heart stops from a heart attack.
Klimas told the Blade he attempted to resuscitate Rieschick after calling 911. He said emergency medical workers arrived in about 10 minutes of his call, but they were unable to save his husband’s life.
He and Costell said a highly restricted funeral viewing was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22 or Jan. 23 at a Northwest D.C. funeral home. Costell said the downtown D.C. lockdown related to the presidential inauguration had as of Tuesday prevented her brother’s body from being transported from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to the funeral home.
Meanwhile, due to COVID-related restrictions, the funeral home has said it would not allow more than eight people to attend the viewing, which was to take place before Rieschick was to be cremated.
Klimas said he is planning a “huge” celebration of Rieschick’s life sometime this summer, with the hope that the COVID vaccine distribution will have lessened the epidemic to the point where a large in-person gathering can be held.
“It’s going to be a MadonnaRama party and it will be held at Number 9,” said Klimas in referring to the D.C. gay bar on P Street, N.W. near Logan Circle. Klimas said Number 9 co-owner John Guggenmos, a friend of his and Rieschick’s, has agreed to stage the MadonnaRama event like the ones Guggenmos has put on at his clubs in the past. Among other things, it includes playing audio and video recordings of Madonna’s performances, Klimas said.
“I’m going to have it catered and have a free bar and hire people to sing,” Klimas said. “It’s going to be a huge party for everybody in honor of Kurt.”
Klimas and Costell, who said her family will participate in the memorial celebration, said they will announce the date and location for the event as soon as they determine it can be arranged.
Rieschick is survived by his husband, David Klimas; his mother, Carol Stvan; his sister, Jacqueline Costell; his niece and nephew, Carlin and Jackson; his father-in-law, James Klimas Sr.; his brother-in-law, Jimmy; and many friends in the D.C. area. He was preceded in death by his father, Kurt Walter Rieschick Sr.; and his mother-in-law, Gilda Klimas.
In lieu of flowers, which the funeral home will not accept due to COVID restrictions, Klimas and Costell are inviting friends and others who knew Rieschick to contribute in Rieschick’s name to the American Heart Association and Raising Malawi, a charitable organization founded by Madonna in 2006 to help orphan children and others facing severe poverty in the African nation of Malawi.