Richard “Rip” Salmon, a retired tennis professional and teacher who introduced the game to young players, died of congestive heart failure April 15 at University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 77 and lived in Linthicum.
Born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and raised in Stanhope, New Jersey, he was the son of Richard Salmon, a World War II veteran and hardware store operator, and Martha Stearns, a homemaker. He was a graduate of Stanhope High School.
His father taught him to play tennis as a child, but he initially did not pursue the sport as a profession. He later played doubles with his father in tournaments.
He enlisted in the Army and was a military police officer in the Army Security Agency. When assigned to Camp Zama, Japan, he met his future wife, Dianne Anderson, a Department of Defense civilian employee and Maryland resident.
He later earned a degree in English literature from the University of Maryland through its overseas extension program in 1972.
Mr. Salmon and his wife traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia as newlyweds.
“We went to Wimbledon twice while we were in London, and maybe that was an incentive,” said his wife, Dianne. “He thought, ‘I may as well pursue a career.’”
Mr. Salmon underwent Lawn Tennis Association Coaches Training at Crystal Palace in London in 1971 and went to teach for Angela Buxton Tennis in London.
After leaving England, he and his wife settled in Glen Burnie and later moved to Arnold. He helped start, manage and teach at the Annapolis Racquet Club. He later worked for Tennis America and traveled extensively with Dennis Van Der Meer, who would later be named “Olympic Developmental Coach of the Year.”
Mr. Salmon was a tennis pro at the Columbia Tennis Barn from 1973 to 1985. He also traveled with a U.S. State Department tour of the Middle East and taught tennis in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
He later became the teaching pro at the Twin Lakes Racquet Club in the Milford Mill section of Baltimore County and was head tennis pro at Sparrows Point Country Club and the Chartwell Country Club in Severna Park.
He worked with Steve “Lightning” Krulevitz at the Bare Hills Athletic Club and at the Greenspring Racquet Club. He was also a tennis coach at the Severn School.
“No one can deny he had a passion for tennis,” Mr. Krulevitz said. “I soon discovered what a terrific instructor he was. He always wanted to take the young kids ages 5 to 8. He had a technique on how to teach them the serve and over 30 years later we still use it in the clinics.”
In the 1990s he joined the staff at the Cross Keys Tennis Club.
“He was my tennis mentor and best friend,” Barry Grube, the club’s manager, said. “He is the reason why I am still teaching and he guided me to start my tennis career. I am proud to have had him finish his career at Cross Keys. He added his expertise in multiple clinics and private lessons during his tenure.”
Andy Barth, a former Channel 2 news reporter, said, “Rip was a fine tennis player, but above and beyond that, a great teacher and coach. He was in demand as a tennis pro. He played and coached all over the world. He was gifted; he could tell young students that they really had to practice if they wanted to play well, and have them like it.
“Rip was the best-read person I know. He’d consume books, and three newspapers and all current events. ... He was loyal beyond question, generous beyond reason, devoted and supportive and honest and true to his beliefs.”
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He enjoyed mystery thrillers and bestsellers.
Mr. Salmon joined the Department of Defense in 1998 and worked until 2007. He and his wife were assigned to South Korea for three years.
He also helped raise his grandchildren and several nieces.
“He enjoyed this time with the kids, teaching them to tie their shoes, throw and catch a ball, play backgammon and ride their bikes,” his wife said. “He was born teacher and liked reaching out to children before they developed other habits.”
He was a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association and U.S. Professional Tennis Registry, a life member of the USTA, and a national tester for the USPTR.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Dianne Anderson, a retired Defense Department worker; a daughter, Stacey Johnson of Huntingtown in Calvert County; a son, Christopher Salmon of Brooklyn Park; two brothers, William Salmon of Micanopy, Florida, and Roger Salmon of Tucson, Arizona; two sisters, Deborah Salmon of Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Melissa Salmon of Troy, New York; and five grandchildren.
No services are planned.