Feb. 22, 1923 – May 18, 2018
Ralph L. Ritzen, 95, of Kearney died Friday, May 18, 2018, at his home. A memorial service will be 1 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at First Lutheran Church in Kearney with Revs. Rick and Michelle Carlson officiating. Inurnment will follow at the church columbarium.
Memorials are suggested to First Lutheran Church, Midland University or AseraCare Hospice. Condolences may be shared online at www.osrfh.com. O’Brien Straatmann Redinger Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Ralph Luther Ritzen was born on Feb. 22, 1923, near Falls City, Nebraska, to the Rev. and Mrs. Martin Ritzen. Ralph’s childhood was spent in Victoria, Texas. He spent his high school years in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then moved to Fremont, Nebraska, for college.
Ralph met Anna Marie (Ree) Hoesly at Midland College and they were married in 1944. While still attending seminary, he supplied St. Peter’s Church in Pilger and St. Petri’s Lutheran Church near Howells. The two congregations merged and built a new church in Pilger. From 1949 to 1953 he served St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Stanton along with Pilger. In 1953, he became Director of Admissions at Midland College where he served until 1979 when he was called to First Lutheran Church in Kearney, as an Associate Pastor. He served as a Pastoral Advisor to the Midwest Synod Luther League and was Camp Director for WANATUA Camp at Niobrara for 17 years. Ralph received a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and the Doctor of Divinity Degree from Midland College in 1994.
He was Model A and Spiritual Growth Workshop Leader for pastors and spouses and Chaplain to THEOS, an organization for widows and widowers, for 20 years in Kearney.
Ralph retired in 1985. He continued to supply pulpits, lead workshops, and serve as a Synod Pastor Evangelist.
Survivors include his wife of 73 years, Ree; daughter and son-in-law, Ann and DJ Knipping of Kearney; son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Patti Ritzen of Longmont, Colorado; along with four grandchildren, Michael Walker, Erik Ritzen, Ethan Ritzen and Molly Ritzen; sister, Anita Brand; brother and sister-in-law, Norman and LaVonne Ritzen; brother-in-law, Richard Hansen, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother and sister-in-law, Leander and Jean Ritzen; sister, Ruth Ellen Hansen; brother-in-law Myron Brand; brother- and sister-in-law, Elmer and Pearl Hoesly; granddaughter, Emily Ritzen; and nephew and niece, Rick and Rebecca Hansen.