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William James Ritchings

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William James Ritchings Obituary
William James Ritchings

Point Pleasant - William J. Ritchings, 91, of Point Pleasant, passed away March 15 at Jersey Shore Medical Center after a brief illness. Named William James in recognition of his great grandfather James William Ritchings, he was known to everyone as "Gene," a nickname he acquired at his birth on Sept. 23, 1926, the night Gene Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey for the title.

He was one of eleven children of Josephine and Harold Eli Ritchings, both children of immigrants, she from Austro-Hungary and he from England. Harold Eli Ritchings is still remembered today in North Jersey union halls for his support of organized labor and the work his commercial plumbing and heating company provided during the Depression. The family grew up prosperous and boisterous on Maybaum Avenue in Newark. The family spent the summers at a rambling house on the Manasquan River in Point Pleasant. One summer after the family returned to their house in Newark, Gene decided to stay behind, enroll in the local high school, get a job, and live on the Manasquan River, beginning the Ritchings family's long connection to Point Pleasant. At Point Pleasant Beach High School he was more inclined to enjoying life than studying, but he played end on the Shore Conference Champion football teams coached by the legendary Joe Pagano.

He went to work after graduation, first behind the counter at Cramer's Drug Store on Arnold Avenue, then as a salesman of lumber products at Ferry Lumber, and later at several other lumber companies prospering from the development of the Jersey Shore. For many years he sold redwood products for Simpson Timber of Seattle and became their Regional Sales Manager for 14 eastern states and Canada, training other salesmen.

He married his high school sweetheart, Norma Warren of Osbornville, in 1948, and they moved into a house on Old Farm Road in Point Pleasant that he built with the help of friends and family.

The founding of the Ocean County Young Republican Club in the late 1940s was the start of a life long passion for politics. He stayed behind the scenes, organizing and managing several campaigns for local political office, and forming acquaintanceships with a number of Republican dignitaries, among them former governors Robert Meyner, William Cahill, and Christine Whitman, and Rep. Chris Smith. In recent years he held positions on both the Ocean County Board of Health and Board of Elections.

He was predeceased by his parents; his brothers Richard, Roy, Harold, Allen, Paul and Frank; and sisters, Dorothy Smith and Patricia Lee; and his companion, Elisabeth Gack. His sisters Joan Kilcommons Scheller and Carol Notte survive him. He is survived by the mother of his seven children, Norma Ritchings of Point Pleasant; his daughters Robin and her husband Dr. David Gutmann of Clayton, Mo.; Nancy and her husband Mark Mazur of Seattle, Wash.; Patricia and her husband Doug Cannon of Bloomfield; and his sons, Gene and his wife Lauren Naslund of Jersey City; David of Point Pleasant; Peter and his wife Mary Lynn of Point Pleasant Beach; and William James Jr. and his wife Judy of Philadelphia, Pa. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Rebecca Gutmann and her husband Nosson Spielberg and his two great grandchildren Eliyahu and Shoshana; Alison Mazur and her husband Lloyd McAlister, and Charles Mazur; Lindsay Ritchings, Emily Ritchings and William John Ritchings, Erin Leahey, Matthew Leahey and his wife Lindsay and their daughter Imogene, and Henry, Audrey, and Grace Cannon; and several dozen nieces and nephews.

Visiting will be on Tuesday from 4-8pmat the O'Brien Funeral Home, 505 Burnt Tavern Road, Brick. In lieu of flowers, Donations to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in his memory would be greatly appreciated. For more information please visit www.obrienfuneralhome.com
Published in Asbury Park Press on Mar. 18, 2018
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