City 02

Joseph Anthony Litsch, III

July 10, 1945 ~ December 29, 2021 (age 76)


Joseph Anthony Litsch, III of Atlanta died December 29, 2021, after a brief illness. He was born July 10, 1945, the only son of Lillie Manning Litsch and Joseph Anthony Litsch, who was killed before his son was born by friendly fire in a military training accident at Camp Mackall in North Carolina during World War II.

Joe Litsch was a man of many talents: he played saxophone in his college marching band, had a long career as a journalist, and was an Emmy-winning set decorator for TV and film for more than 30 years. But, he may be best remembered for his outgoing personality, ready laugh, and ability to engage anyone in conversation. “He never lost his gift of gab,” said Jo Bell Livingston of Villa Rica, a close friend for more than 50 years. “He still could talk the horns off a goat.” His cousin Zach Manning wrote on Joe’s Facebook page, “Now you can talk with Betty all you want,” referring to actress Betty White who died recently.

After graduating high school in Jonesboro, he headed for Athens where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia’s Henry Grady School of Journalism. His major was in the school’s Radio-TV-Film sequence. While at UGA he was a proud member of the Redcoat Marching Band. He would return to Sanford Stadium many times to play with the Alumni Band on Homecoming Saturdays. With his ABJ degree in hand (he later returned for graduate school) he was hired by The Atlanta Constitution. While at the paper, he was a sportswriter, features writer, and entertainment critic. He reviewed movies, plays and nightclub acts. During that time, he was introduced to movie production while doing interviews and covering film shootings.

Among his large circle of friends is Carolyn Callaway, who was active on the thriving Atlanta Cabaret scene in the 1970s and ‘80s, along with her friend Jo Bell. Callaway succinctly describes Joe, “Anyone who is a fan of the early days of Atlanta musical theatre knows Joe Litsch. Joe was an integral part of the community whether he was covering a story about a national tour for the AJC or at our local cabaret theatres like Upstairs at Gene & Gabe’s. A conversation with Joe was always entertaining and the background stories of the stars he met were wonderful. He will be missed by all of us. It’s hard to imagine our No. 1 fan not here to support and cheer on local performers.”

After he left the newspaper, he worked as a public relations specialist. In 1989, he joined Atlanta’s Decoworks as a set decorator. Among his 34 TV and film credits were: “I’ll Fly Away” (1992), “To Dance With the White Dog” (1993), a film adaption of the Terry Kay book; “A Burning Passion: The Margaret Mitchell Story” (1994), “The Hunley” (1999), “Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal” (2000), “The Rosa Parks Story” (2002) and “A Trip to Bountiful” (2014). Many of the productions were filmed in Georgia. A three-time Emmy nominee, he won the 1995 Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Mini-Series or Special for the 1994 CBS production of “Scarlet,” a sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” He appeared as himself in several TV series, including five episodes of “October Road.” He also reviewed films for Rotten Tomatoes.

Joe was preceded in death by his father, his mother Lillie Manning Litsch Schraut and his stepfather Edwin Schraut; his maternal grandparents, Eva Ward Manning and Otha Lee Manning; and a godson, Jamie Waggoner. He is survived by two aunts, Mattie Manning Thomas of Dublin and Lorene Manning Carter of Alma; godsons Robert Waggoner and Gordon Waggoner from Stockbridge; numerous cousins.

Funeral arrangements were made by Townsend Brothers Funeral Home of Dublin. His body was cremated. A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m., January 29, 2022, at Nash Farm, 1085 GA Hwy 338 in Dudley, GA. The farm is owned by his cousin, LeeAnn Manning Nash, and her husband Billy.








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Celebration of Life
January 29, 2022

2:00 PM
Nash Farm (Dudley, GA)

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