Donald Ross “Don” Ritchie age 96 of Prairie du Chien, WI passed away peacefully Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien. He was born November 8, 1926, in Iowa City, Iowa, the son of Esther (LaVelle) and James Ritchie. Don attended grade school in Postville, IA, moving to PdC at age 14 to finish high school. Don was a member of the 1941 Prairie High football team that was undefeated, untied, and unscored upon. After graduating in 1944, Don enlisted in the Navy and served as a quartermaster on support ships during WWII in the South Pacific. Following his military service, in 1947 Don enrolled in the Chicago School of Watchmaking in Chicago, IL and completed apprenticeships in Cedar Falls and Dubuque, IA. Don married Edith Lechnir at St. John Nepomuc Church in PdC on October 14, 1950—the couple celebrated 72 years of marriage this past October. Don’s first watchmaking job was at Rosheck’s Department Store in Dubuque, where the couple lived for one year. In 1951, Don and Edith moved back to PdC, started their family, and established Ritchie’s Jewelry in downtown PdC. Don was very supportive of all the family members and friends in his life, and he loved a great game of cards. In 2002, Don and Edith were awarded the C. F. La Pointe Award by the Chamber of Commerce, recognizing them for 51 years of service to the community through their business and for helping enrich the lives of others through The Opportunity Center. PdC Downtown Revitalization, Inc. honored Don as “Businessman of the Year” at its 2008 annual meeting saying that he was “…someone who has dedicated his whole life to family, business, and community….” Don loved his work. For 65 years, Don, along with wife, Edith, weathered changing retail times and provided their customers with the watch and jewelry service that became increasingly rare, and in doing so, brightened Blackhawk Avenue.
Don is survived by wife, Edith, daughter Kim (Jim) Bergman of Portland, OR; son Ross (Pam) Ritchie and daughter Janet (Randy) Wachter, both of PdC; seven grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, one great-great grandson; and sister Jeanne Hampton of Bloomington, WI. Don was preceded in death by: son James “Jimmy” Ritchie, parents Clarence “Spot” and Esther Reiser, sister Nancy Reiser; and brothers Earl Reiser and Cy Harris and his wife Etta; and brother-in-law Neil Hampton. The family thanks Don’s Prairie Maison caregivers for the kindness and compassion they showed to him and the good care he received.
A private Memorial Mass will be held at St. John’s Church of the Holy Family Parish, with burial in the Calvary Cemetery, both in Prairie du Chien. Military honors will be accorded graveside by the Prairie du Chien Honor Guard.
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