After almost 40 years working as a manufacturing technician at Howmet, 2 days short of his 72 birthday and almost 23 years with close companion, friend and soulmate, Rosemary Gale, Gary Lynn Ritchard has gone home to be with his Lord on Tuesday, April 18. Gary battled serious issues over the past several years with a few hospitals stays, but finally was not able to delay his call home. Gary is sadly missed by his soulmate, Rose, his foster daughter Lisa and grandson Sean, his siblings Connie Pryzybylek, Clay Ritchard, and Marcia Pastoor (Tracy) all of Muskegon, Charles (Marie) Ritchard of Hart, Pam Ritchard of Traverse City and Elvie Gadberry of Astoria, Oregon along with several nieces and nephews. Gary was the 2nd child of Adam and Elvie Ritchard who proceeded him in death. He loved them both dearly and often spoke of the good times at the family cottage at Crystal Lake in Beulah, Michigan. After Gary graduated from Oakridge High School he joined a few of his uncles serving as a maritime seaman on ships and ferries transferring people, cars and even train cars across the Great Lakes to various ports of call in Wisconsin. When Gary’s draft number was called in 1971, he answered it bravely as did his father in WWII and became a proud US Army veteran serving in California, Washington, and South Carolina. He also served a brief time upon his honorable discharge in the Army Reserves when his unit was activated and served the National Guard at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. Upon his return, Gary began his almost 40 years serving at various plants for Howmet beginning at Plant # 2 in Muskegon, Plant # 1 in Whitehall and serving a majority of his career as part of the Plant #4 Thermatech division in Whitehall. Gary spoke highly of his co-workers, especially Joanne Heaton and Rudy Carlson, Tom and his wife Pam Semelbauer, and Jeff and Shelly Anderson. He also spoke highly of a family friend, Randy Fisher, who they shared a love of collectibles especially baseball cards. One of the bright moments that he spoke often was seeing Mark” The Bird” Fidrych at a local card shop. Gary was also an avid collector of so many things and gave a description of the current number and where he purchased them. He beamed as he described the collectibles either hanging on his walls or in his garage on special hooks. It was almost as if each had a special name and or in some cases an autograph. His collection of hockey skates, beer steins, and wood lathe tools was not only incredibly special, but became a way to enjoy Rosemary’s company and often run into people he or Rosemary knew from their long careers. Their outings often included yard sales, auctions and flea markets local and some farther like the Allegan Antique Market, Howard City or Trufant Flea Markets. Gary’s love beside that of Rosemary was also for his foster daughter Lisa and her son Sean. Although he couldn’t see them much in his later months, his love for them never diminished. He spoke of Lisa’s accomplishments and of her son Sean.
Gary often spoke of Bible verses when engaged and his favorite was always John 3:16 and he was always sure to remind you and added “and verses 17, 18 and 19.” Of course, that always got a chuckle from whoever his audience was at the time. Gary’s last days on this earth were without pain even as he slipped peacefully into his sleep. It was a battle that welcomed him home and brought closure to his soulmate Rosemary who provided exemplary care that extended his life these past two years. His final verses in the Bible, which we read, were focused on Faith, Trust and Rejoicing in the Lord as found in Hebrews 11, Psalm 56 and Philippians 4. Although Gary’s illness was extensive over these past couple of years, it became evident these past few days why he was remaining even though his body had become frail. Gary was being used by the Lord to remind all of us of our pending days and our need to renew our faith, our prayer, and our love. Gary was being held a witness to all of us and to embrace God’s word as our time is drawing near as well. Gary was welcomed home on April 18, 2023 at 9:42 am. Praise God for in All Things his Will Be Done!
There will be no immediate service, but a gathering of family and friends will be announced at a later date. Charitable contributions, in lieu of flowers, are being directed toward Tunnel to Towers!
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Tunnel to Towers Foundation
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