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Tom Vernon Ritchie, Professor Emeritus of Music at Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State) and composer of the opera, "The Children of Hamelin," died February 20 in Bloomington, Indiana. He was 90 years old.
Ritchie was a university professor of music theory and composition. For nearly three decades, music students from south-central Iowa and north-central Missouri who wanted to teach music and went to Northeast Missouri State enrolled in his classes.
Ritchie composed the music and wrote the libretto for the opera, "The Children of Hamelin," based on the Robert Browning poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." The opera premiered at Northeast Missouri State University in 1981.
He was born in Lawrenceville, Illinois and completed his undergraduate studies in music at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. He received his Ph.D. degree in music from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1960.
Ritchie was a World War II veteran enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942. After training in amphibious assault, he commanded several landing craft during the invasion of Iwo Jima in 1945, landing Marines of the Fourth Division on the first morning of the battle.
Ritchie married Marilyn (nee Folliard) Ritchie in 1949. She preceded him in death. He is survived by three children: Thomas of Baltimore, Maryland; Robert of Madison, Wisconsin; and Heather of Chicago, Illinois.
His children have established the Tom V. Ritchie Memorial Scholarship fund at Truman State University. Gifts may be made to the fund by sending a check made payable to the Truman State University Foundation, 205 McClain Hall, 100 E. Normal Ave., Kirksville, MO, 63501-4221.
Please indicate on the memo line or in a letter that the gift is for the Tom V. Ritchie Memorial Scholarship.
Published in Des Moines Register on Mar. 7, 2013