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Obituary: John A. Ritchie, 97

John A. Ritchie, 97

 John A. Ritchie, Ret. Wilmington Police Detective and Former Wilmington High School Head Football Coach, age 97, a life-long resident of Wilmington, passed away peacefully at home on October 13, 2019.

John was born on June 5, 1922, in Salem, MA; he was the dear son of the late Gardener and Rose Ritchie. He was raised in Wilmington and attended Wilmington Public Schools. John was a good athlete and had a passion for football throughout his life; he played football and baseball while growing up and was the quarterback for Wilmington Wildcats high school football team. John graduated Wilmington High School with the Class of 1940.

In February of 1942, John, enlisted in the United States Army during World War II; he served with the 27th Tow Target Squadron as a radio operator and mechanic. John received several commendations including the American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal and the Victory Ribbon. Sergeant Ritchie was honorably discharged in November of 1945 and returned home to his family in Wilmington.

Upon his return from the service, John took a job as a postman for the local Post Office for several years. He was appointed to the Wilmington Police Department in 1956 and started a rewarding career as a Police Officer. John worked his way through the ranks as a Patrolman, then on to the Safety Officer for several years before becoming the Town’s Juvenile Officer. In the mid 1970’s, John was appointed Detective; a position he held until he retired but was also made an acting Sargent in July of 1983; following many years of dedicated service to the Town of Wilmington, John, retired in 1987.

John married Olive Walsh in 1946; the couple bought his family homestead where they raised four children and enjoyed being grandparents to their grandchildren. The family had many great times together before Olive’s untimely passing in 1988. John, along with his family enjoyed many trips to Maine, where they loved going to the beach and Nubble light. Throughout his life, John, was known to be a sun worshiper who loved the beach and he worked on his signature “year round tan”. John was also known as an avid gardener who had quite a green thumb; he had incredible vegetable gardens that he tended to at his own home as well as his daughter’s home.

In 1956, John joined the coaching staff for Wilmington High School’s football team; he was very passionate about his team, he was a tough but fair coach who was a mentor to many students throughout the years. John was always willing to give his time and share his talents with his teams throughout the years; he became the head coach in the late 1970’s and continued to produce many winning seasons with “his boys”. John was later inducted into the Wilmington Hall of Fame for his Coaching. After retiring from the Wilmington Wildcats, John, continued to coach for several years with the semi-pro team Nashua Colts.

Always an athlete, John, became an avid golfer throughout the years and took up skiing in his 60’s; he was never afraid to try something new.

John will be fondly remembered for his love of family and community; he served his country, his community and earned the respect of many students at Wilmington High School. He impacted and molded the lives of many and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

John was the beloved husband of Olive C. (Walsh) Ritchie, father of William Ritchie & his wife Donna of Tewksbury, Nancy Sullivan & her late husband Kevin of Wilmington, James Ritchie & his wife Jeanette of Salisbury and Annie Coates & her husband Tom of Wilmington. Grandfather of Karen, Nancy, Kelly, Diane, Julie, Joanna, Tommy, Jimmy, Kyle, Leslie, Timmy, Shawn, Ashley, Great-Grandfather of Brooke, Taylor, Chase, Kevin, Scott, Shayna, Jocelyn, Andrew, Addison, Daniel, Miyka’el, Katorah, Eliyshah, Gabriel, Osiris, Natalie, Christopher, Hailey, Xavier, Isabella, Catherine, Kimberly, Noah, Thomas, and Great-Great-Grandfather of Brady and Prince. Son of the late Gardener and Rose (Porter) Ritchie, brother of Robert Ritchie & his wife Elaine of Tewksbury, the late Pauline McCue, Mary Hinckley and Charles Ritchie. John is survived by many nieces, nephews and friends.

Family and friends will gather at the Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Friday, October 18th at 10:00 a.m. followed by a Funeral Home Service at 11:00 a.m. Interment with Military Honors will follow In Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington. Visiting Hours will be held at the Funeral Home on Thursday, October 17th from 3:00-7:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations in John’s memory may be made to The Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor, Brookline, MA 02445-7226.

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