James Thomas Ritter of Nevis, MN died while at Heritage Memory Care in Park Rapids, MN on November 3rd, 2022. He was 95 years old at the time of his death.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 P.M. Saturday, November 12, 2022 at Mohr & Becker-Hunt Funeral Home. Visitation with the family will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Online condolences may be given at www.meyerbroschapels.com.
Known by his friends and family as Tom, he was born on December 19, 1926 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Charles(Charlie) Gray and Hazel May Ritter (née Holloway). He was the youngest of 3 children, the oldest his brother and Alfred(Al) and a sister Frances. Tom started working for Otis Elevator Company as a helper to his father and brother where he learned, in his own words, that it was “a business with a lot of ups and downs”.
After graduating from Little Rock Central Senior High School he enlisted in the US Army for World War II. He was assigned to the motor pool and was the sergeant in charge of his unit. His unit was deployed to Germany and was part of the security forces assigned to Berlin after it was liberated by the Allies. After his service in the Army, he returned to work for Otis in construction. A few years and many vertical stories traveled, he traveled to South Dakota to work on installing new elevators in that region.
One night he went roller skating in Huron and while there he met Cleo Kasperbauer. After a short courtship they were married on March 12, 1949. This marriage brought them 3 children: Debora Ann, Michael Thomas and Steven Charles. Tom worked for Otis for 41 years, starting in Arkansas with stops in Iowa and South Dakota. In 1968 the family of five moved to Sioux City when Tom transferred to the local Otis office. Working there until he retired in 1988.
During the last few years of work Cleo and Tom began to plan their retirement. Part of this plan was to design, source material and build a log home. They chose a location in Northern Minnesota, just south of the headwaters of the Mississippi river. The logs however were not local and in his charming way he was always able to tell you that he got them from Cuba. After a short pause he would smile and chuckle then add “you know the one in Missouri”. In 1989 they moved into the newly built home on 5th Crow Wing lake. They never became snowbirds because the reason they chose Northern Minnesota was for the snow and trails. They both became avid snowmobile riders(well mostly Tom). They joined the Nevis Trailblazers snowmobile club where they met locals that shared the same passion and became lifelong friends. Tom rode his snowmobile until he was 92 and up to the last few seasons would put thousands of miles under his boots each winter.
In retirement, Tom and Cleo enjoyed traveling to new areas and visiting their kids, grandkids and great grandkids. One of Tom's favorite trips was when he was chosen to go to Washington DC as part of the Northland Honor Flight. This was a one day trip where they flew out, had mailcall with letters from family members, visited the WWII memorial, the tomb of the unknown soldier and other memorials. He would talk about how special that day was for years to come.
Tom is survived by his children Debby(Steve) Spencer, Mike(Dee) Ritter, and Steve(Nancy) Ritter. His grandchildren Mike(Stephanie) Mohr, April(Shawn) McArthur, Matt(Amie) Ritter, Andy(Katie) Ritter, Abigail(Keegan)Bohn, and Chris Ritter. Followed by the great grandchildren, Derek Mohr, Raegan Mohr, Milo Ritter, Hazel Ritter and Calhoun Bohn. He is survived by his niece Janet Sykes.
He is preceded in death by his parents, both his siblings (Frances and Al), his nephew Bill and his beloved wife of 66 years, Cleo.
A memorial service will be held in Park Rapids, MN in the summer. In lieu of flowers and gifts, please send donations in Tom's name to Hospice of the Red River Valley in Detroit Lakes, MN or to the Honor Flight Northland chapter in Duluth, MN.