Asheville - Cathie St. John-Ritzen, 68, of Asheville, died Thursday, November 7, 2013, at Mission Hospital, Memorial Campus, from injuries suffered in a fall at her home.
Born December 29, 1944, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she lived in Missouri until 1999 when she and her husband, Jim Ritzen, moved to Asheville. A 1998 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, she opened her elder law practice in Asheville in 2001.
Prior to entering the legal profession, she was a registered nurse providing bedside care and holding several supervisory and administrative positions for nearly 20 years. She was a graduate of the Barnes Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis. She also taught English at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she received her bachelor's degree in 1986 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
In addition to her private law practice, she was Buncombe County Public Administrator from 2001 until her death. She served on the executive committee of the Buncombe County 28th Judicial District Bar from 2007-2010, chaired the education committee of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys in 2007, and served on the board of the state chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She volunteered on Pisgah Legal Service's hotline and its Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers elder law team. Her community involvement included the executive committee of the Buncombe County Council on Aging, the executive committee of the Vanderbilt Apartments, past president of the Buncombe County Women's Commission, and a board member of the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County. She taught law related courses in the College for Seniors program of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC-Asheville and was a program presenter for CarePartners, Land-of-Sky Regional Council, Triad, and other community organizations.
In addition to her husband of 42 years, she is survived by her sister Sidney St. John-Guida (Phil Guida) of Candler, nieces Erin Hunt of Lake Lure and Gloria Reimers (Travis Reimers and grandnephew Isaiah) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, nephews Jody Hunt and Orion Hunt (and grandniece Oriya) of Asheville, cousins Nick Waits (Claudia) of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, and Hank Waits (Barb) of Oviedo, Florida, and her beloved dogs and cats. She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert St. John and Dorothy Waits St. John.
A Service of Remembrance and Celebration will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, November 23, 2013, at Jubilee! Community Church, 46 Wall Street, Asheville, with the Rev. Howard Hanger and Dr. J. Michael Hester officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Jubilee! Community Church, 46 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 28801 (www.jubileecommunity.org
); the Partnership for Pastoral Counseling, P.O. Box 19796, Asheville, NC 28815 (www.ppcwnc.org
); Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, P.O.Box 8195, Asheville, NC 28814 (www.bwar.org
); or the
. Condolences can be made to the family at www.ashevilleareaalternative.com