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Obituary of Phyllis Ritchie
Phyllis Ritchie, 101, of Wisconsin Rapids, died on Sunday, May 17, 2020 with her children by her side. Phyllis May Clark Ritchie was born at Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids on October 21, 1918. She was the daughter of William Walter Clark and Estella Junkman Clark. She grew up on the family farm on the Hemlock Creek near Vesper, WI where she learned a strong work ethic and family bond. She and her seven siblings all attended the one-room Bean School through 8th grade. She graduated from Lincoln High School in 1935 and continued her education at the Wood County Normal School where she received her teaching certificate. She taught in several one-room school houses where she was required to light a fire for heat, pump water, shovel snow, and occasionally cook meals for her students. Her salary was $65 a month. Her teaching education was important throughout her life as she was a Cub Scout leader, Sunday School teacher, Brownie and Girl Scout leader. She was a lifelong learner, always curious about new ideas and developments. She was an early adaptor to her bread machine, microwave oven, laptop computer and cellphone; always wanting to stay in close touch with her extended family. Phyllis was active in her church, Wisconsin Rapids United Methodist, and served for many years on committees and boards in her 70 years as a member. She was a proud member of the Republican party, served as a poll worker and a census taker. She was a Charter Member of the Tri City Ladies Golf group. Thursday mornings in the summer always found her on the course, and she played into her nineties. Her innate curiosity led her to classes at the technical school’s “Night School”. She enjoyed classes in metal working, leather crafting, cake decorating, and sewing. She loved to cook and bake. Her Chocolate Truffle Pie is legendary! She loved nature in all ways. She was an avid gardener of vegetables and flowers, loved picking berries and making jam, and loved spring with the new life of wildflowers, birds, and animals. In 1942, she married her high school sweetheart, John Charles Ritchie. Phyllis and John spent 65 years side by side. They enjoyed golfing, square dancing, playing bridge, volunteering in the community, and spending time with their children. They spent a month traveling in Europe, visited pyramids in Mexico and Egypt, went on several church missions, trips to Costa Rica, and went white water rafting in Alaska. After John’s retirement in 1980, they spent many wonderful winters on the beach in Panama City, Florida where they entertained friends and family. Phyllis is survived by her three children and their spouses. John H. (Marjorie) Ritchie of Wisconsin Rapids, Ann (David) Nelson of La Crosse, and Mary Ritchie (Thomas Cunningham) of Milwaukee. She is further survived by 7 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandson. Other survivors include her sister, Glenna (Roger) Bushman of Pittsville, her sisters-in-law Maxine Clark, Joan Clark, and Ann Clark, many nieces, nephews, and friends of all ages. She was predeceased by her husband John, her sister Virginia (Gaylord) Hartsough, brothers Jack (Wilma), Max (Elaine), William, Robert (Virginia), James, and her sister-in-law Mary Ritchie (Allison) McCain. The family especially wants to thank these people who cared so much about Phyllis as they helped care for her: Dr. C Francis Natividad, Diane Strehl, Helen Dillingham, Debra W, Michelle M, Hayle, Donna, Ida, and Dawn. Due to current social restrictions because of the Coronavirus pandemic, there will be no service at this time. There will be a celebration of a life well-lived at a future date. Herman-Taylor Funeral Home, Wisconsin Rapids, is honored to be assisting the family. Memorials in memory of Phyllis Ritchie can be sent to: Incourage Community Foundation 478 E. Grand Ave. Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494 www.incouragecf.org United Methodist Women’s Society- Special Project Fund 441 Garfield St. Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494 As a young teenager, Phyllis won the 4H competition and was declared “The healthiest girl in Wood County.” She went on to represent Wood County at the State Fair in Milwaukee. As she lived nearly 102 years of age, there must have been some truth in that designation!
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