Cover photo for Douglas Ritchie's Obituary
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1926 Douglas 2015

Douglas Ritchie

May 24, 1926 — January 2, 2015

Douglas S. Ritchie, age 88 of Madison and formerly of Montello, died on Friday, January 2, 2015, at Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg, WI. Born to Edna (nee Chandler) and Thomas Ritchie on April 24, 1926 in Madison, WI, Doug lived in Montello, WI, until he entered the Army Air Corps. Upon his discharge in November of 1945, Doug entered college at Oshkosh, where he participated in football, track and basketball. He was inducted into the UW-Oshkosh Hall of Fame in 1975. He coached football, basketball and baseball at Port Washington High School and played both semi-professional baseball and basketball for many years.

Doug married his college sweetheart, Patricia Gallagher, in 1948; she preceded him in death in 2005. Five children were born to Patty and Doug: Robert (Debra) of Aspen, CO; the late Barbara (Paul) Flanagan of Kenai, AK; Thomas (Lynn) of Littleton, CO; John (Molly) of Madison, WI; and Richard of De Pere, WI. He is survived by 10 grandchildren: Julia Ritchie; Sean, Kellan and Lierin Flanagan; Laura (Austen) Portz, Megan (Spencer) and Amy Ritchie; and Erica, Adrian and Jillian Ritchie. He is further survived by his sister Joan Smith of Appleton, WI, with whom he shared many memories and a caring relationship, sisters-in-law Ginny Fellman and Bev Fritz, and nephews and nieces. Doug was also preceded in death by his parents, sister Meryl Ritchie Willoughby, his daughter Barbara Ritchie Flanagan, cousin Gordie Ritchie and other family members.

Doug and Patty cherished their retirement time and the many friends they made while living in Marana, AZ. His wife, his children, their spouses and his grandchildren were his greatest interest and joy; he treasured every minute of his relationships with each member of his family and loved them deeply.

In his professional career, Doug taught history and served as the principal of three Wisconsin elementary schools, a junior high school and the Port Washington High School from 1950 until 1964. Patty and Doug were very fond of Port Washington and had many friends there throughout their lives. The Ritchie family moved to Madison where Doug served as principal of West High School from 1964 until 1967 when he became the superintendent of the Madison Public Schools, serving in that position until his retirement in 1980.

Dr. Douglas Ritchie received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1967. His memberships in Madison included service on the Madison Library Board, the Madison Area Technical College Board and the St. Mary's Hospital Board. Doug also served on the board in St. Louis for all of the St. Mary's hospitals in the country. He was a member and President of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control and helped to usher in participation in high school athletics for girls. In 1974, Doug worked directly for the Secretary of the U.S. Army in the European and African overseas dependent schools. He was a distinguished professor for the National Academy of School Executives (NASE) and in that capacity traveled extensively in the world conducting school management sessions. He also directed administrative training institutes for the Kettering Foundation and Institute for Development of Educational Activities (I/D/E/A/) for 25 years.

Doug highly valued the importance of educating Madison's children and worked tirelessly to create learning opportunities for all students and teachers. The creation of teacher training workshops was a significant factor that enabled Madison's educators to not only keep up with changes but to also produce change. The Madison schools changed significantly from 1967 to 1980 with the greatest change being the creation of 10 middle schools, evolving from the 14 long-standing junior high schools. The administrative structure was altered into four attendance areas; Central High School was closed and the other four high schools were either remodeled or expanded. Several schools were constructed under Dr. Ritchie's tenure, including Muir, Lindbergh, Jefferson, Sandburg, Leopold and Thoreau. Many other schools experienced building modifications. Twenty years after his retirement, Doug was a driving force in the creation of The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools. The Foundation remains influential in promoting and encouraging teacher creativity in the classroom today. The economic hardships imposed by the state aid formula are partly assuaged by the grants to teachers from the Foundation.

Doug's family commends the wonderful support and care received from the UW Health Cardiology, Vascular and Geriatrics staff, and the Agrace HospiceCare IPU and Residence teams. Each provided comfort, peace and dignity throughout his journey.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to support a memorial fund honoring Doug and educational administration excellence through The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools, 101 Nob Hill Rd, Ste. 300, Madison, WI 53713.

A celebration of Doug's life will be held Saturday, January 17, 2015, from 9 am - 12:30 pm, at Cherokee Country Club, 5000 N. Sherman Ave., Madison, WI. A brief tribute will occur at 12 noon.

There will also be another service on Saturday at Crawford Funeral Home, 453 Park Street, Montello, WI, at 3 pm. Visitation will take place from 2:30 pm until time of service. A private graveside service with military honors will follow.

Please visit www.PostHope.org/DougRitchie to share memories. Online condolences may be shared at www.gundersonfh.com.

Previous Events

Visitation
Saturday, January 17, 2015
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Crawford Funeral Home of Montello

453 E. Park Street
Montello, WI 53949

Memorial Service
Saturday, January 17, 2015
3:00 PM
Crawford Funeral Home of Montello

453 E. Park Street
Montello, WI 53949

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