Latoya Akisha Ritter
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She loved being a social worker and therapist, and she studied to be the best one possible.

Latoya Akisha Ritter of Charlotte died suddenly October 19, 2011, at home. She had been talking on the phone when her friend heard a loud thud and called 911. Latoya was 31 and appeared to be in radiant health. Her family hopes that medical science can solve the mystery of her death.

Latoya, or "Kisha" to her close family, was born to Sylvester and Diane Ritter. When she was about two years old her dad, known in the wrestling world as "Junk Yard Dog," asked his sister to care for Latoya. Although he constantly traveled, he had received full custody of his daughter in a divorce. He wanted her raised in a stable, loving home with her cousins.

Latoya was raised as a sister to Jarvis Jr., Angela and DeLisa in Christine Woodburn's Wadesboro home. "She called me 'Mom,' " Christine said.

"Latoya was very determined and set goals," said Angela Woodburn. "She was ambitious, headstrong and motivated. She wanted to be a licensed therapist, and she worked three jobs to put herself through school."

Believed in family

"She liked to work with children," Angela said. "She believed in family and thought the world of her nieces and nephews. She took them under her wing and made sure they knew right from wrong. She told them to strive for the best and to not take less, and she believed in what she taught."

Latoya believed in friends, too.

"She was the best friend I ever had," said Keetra Sturdivant, who had known Latoya for 20 years. "She was my true friend indeed, the sister I never had. She was young, but mature and wise beyond her years."

Latoya, an athletic student, was a 1998 Anson Senior High School honor graduate and was on the school's varsity cheerleading team.

Her dad was driving home from her graduation when he was killed in a wreck in Mississippi. Christine and Latoya attended in 2004 the ceremony that inducted Sylvester into the Wrestling World Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Latoya graduated from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor's degree in social work, then earned her master's from University of South Carolina. She first worked at the Iredell County Department of Social Services before coming to Mecklenburg County's child protective services.

Always smiling

"She was always smiling and so pleasant," said Bonnie Lowe, executive director of Autism Services of Mecklenburg County. "This was not just a job. With her masters degree, she didn't have to continue here – she liked it. She had everything going for her; she was so full of life, so funny and such a sweet spirit."

Latoya was especially beloved by the clients of Taylor Home, a residence that serves the mentally handicapped clients that she also counseled.

"She was a people person," said Lourie Burns, the group home supervisor. "She touched everybody with encouraging and uplifting words. She was passionate about her work and did special things for our people; she was especially fond of Linda."

Latoya was so fond of Linda Lysaught that she told Linda's mom, Elaine Hoddinott, that she wanted to take Linda if she ever graduated from the group home.

"I trusted Latoya deeply," Elaine said. "The only reason I didn't let Linda go was because if anything happened, she would be out of the system and could not get back in."

Linda said of Latoya, "She was my advocate and would take me places in her car. We would go shopping and eat at Sonny's Barbecue. We were going bowling Sunday at Park Lanes."

Instead of going bowling on Sunday, Latoya's friends and clients attended her funeral and mourned the loss of a dedicated friend.

- Gerry Hostetler,
Published in Charlotte Observer on Dec. 29, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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42 entries
July 17, 2019
I was watching a YouTube documentary on her dad and saw in the comment section that she passed. I'm heartbroken. She was young, full of life, smart, and sweet with a great smile when she accepted her dad's induction into the Hall Of Fame. I give my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. Rest in peace LaToya.
January 4, 2018
I am at a loss for words!
November 30, 2017
It's bad she died
Tony Atlas
March 31, 2016
Toya I was in shock to hear of your passing. I had just spoke with you 2 weeks prior. We always had out girl talk in which I miss very much. You were my play cousin & friend. We had so much fun in Grad school, Go Gamecocks! Toya you have been truly missed. "Ain't nothing going on but the got to have a JOB if you wanna be with me." Love you Toya
Lakeisha Brown
December 13, 2015
RIP Latoya and her father Junkyard Dog, it would have been his birthday today!
michael cohan
November 3, 2015
It has been 4 years and it still feels so surreal... I miss you friend...I will forever pray that your soul is at peace. Love you diva!
Your friend,
F. Bryant
October 23, 2015
Missing You Fam...
A Ritter
February 3, 2015
Wow. This crazy world. Sorry to hear of this horrible tragedy. I also just learned of JYD's passing. I used to set on my grandpas knee as a super young'n and cheer for my favorite wrestler JYD. Sorry for your losses.
Mike King
January 2, 2015
I'm sorry about your loss
November 23, 2014
Just found out. My heart goes out to the family. She is with a good man, her father JYD. RIP and God bless to the family. 1 love
Robert Forster
October 19, 2014
I am very shocked to hear of Latoya Ritters ' passing. She was too young to be gone. I remember watching the wwe hall of fame 2004 and seeing her except the award for her dad,Sylvester ritter (jyd). Now the both of them are in heaven together, father and daughter forever. Rest in peace, Latoya Ritter, daughter of legendary wrestler, Sylvester ritter.
nikki thomas
April 1, 2014
My heart hurts, as I am just learning of Latoya's death. We truly lost an exceptional human being. She was so exceptional with children until I was trying to reconnect with her to ask her to be my daughter's godmother. She told me that I was her mentor but I learned so much from her. She made me proud everytime she cleared a hurdle or made an accomplishment. Such a gifted young woman who we lost way too soon. My daughter may never meet you but she will know of you! Thank you for all the laughs especially when I was down. I didn't get a chance to tell you while you were here Toya but I love you and I know that you are at peace with your dad. You are missed tremendously!
Tonya Hart Coleman
March 4, 2014
I am so sorry to hear about this young lady death I always knew about her father and saw her take his award. I hope she's in a better place and God bless her soul and God bless her family
January 1, 2014
Bless you and your father's souls....
M. Tressa
December 18, 2013
I didnt know Latoya but all that Ive read gives me a sense of a beautiful woman inside and out to her closest friends and family she had to leave behind my prayers go out to you ! I loved and miss the junkyard dog the last ocassion my father went to see him at an event he was helping raise money for kids he was the best wrestler of all time!!
darlene yates
December 6, 2013
I watched your dad when I was young and had the privileged of seeing him in action. I was sad to hear of his accident and now reading of you...I am sad and sorry once again for the families
D. Jordan
January 28, 2013
You will always be missed. You were a bright spot in Iredell County!
January 14, 2013
While your father was more famous, I'm sure you were just as loved by the people who knew you. May you rest in peace.
Ricardo Coleman
November 28, 2012
May God continue to be with your family! Toya was like the little sister I never had. She was so funny and ambitious. May her legacy of giving and love give the family eternal peace!
Trice A.
June 14, 2012
Latoya was special and she will be especially missed.
Leon Gatewood
April 17, 2012
May you rest in peace, LaToya. Now you reach your father! RIP
Josh -
April 6, 2012
May u and ur father always be together in heaven. We will miss u both
Bob Williamson
March 11, 2012
Just informed of your passing So so sad. RIP
February 17, 2012
May the God who give your Family comfort
February 14, 2012
Sincere condolences to the family!
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort. Isa 33:24
L. Ellis
February 11, 2012
My sincere sympathy for the lost of your dear loved one,Latoya Ritter. At times of sorrow we may ask,"will I ever see or embrace my loved one again?" Jesus answers at John11:11-44 saying, Lazarus come on out! And he did!

January 27, 2012
May your heart be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. Eccl. 7:1
January 25, 2012
O for a day to walk again slow through the forest deep O for the time to talk again before I go to sleep O for the warmth of summer sun the chill of winters eve and O for the chance to sing my song once more before I leave O for secent of autumn are brisk clean and cold O for the chance to travel where the seas are blue and bold O for the prayer I never prayed O for the kiss I never kissed and O for the chance to sing my song once more while yet I am missed cry of bird and wail of wind unspoken sin unsinned a night to dance a hill to climb the chance to sing while there is time O for the taste of meat and ale to linger on my tongue O for the sight of hill and dale and faces that are young O for the hand of one I love the time to bloom and grow and O for the chance to sing my song once more before I go

May the peace of God be with all of you now and forever.
January 13, 2012
Words can not express how sorry I am for your loss. Latoya was a good person in mind soul and heart. My daughter Faith and I will always cherish the time spent.RIP
Lisa Parker-Matthews
January 9, 2012
A word of comfort.(1 John 3:20) . . .God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. . .
A Mom
January 7, 2012
jill sumner
January 6, 2012
Kisha was truly a loving friend. She will truly be missed for her lovely smile and great humor. My prayers are with the family.
Tammy Carelock-Goodson
January 6, 2012
GOD needed a angel bless you!
Gloria Cassidy
January 5, 2012
I went to high school with Latoya and she had such a magnetic personality. I didn't get the pleasure of keeping in contact with her since then but do wish her family and friends peace and comfort during their loss.
Kimberly Sellers Byerly
January 4, 2012
Kisha is my niece on her mother (Dianne Tillmans ) side. We will miss her for she was such a sweet child/woman. May God comfort us in this time of great sorrow and sadness.
Ruby Broadaway
January 4, 2012
I'm sorry to hear of the lost of Toya. I know Toya from college at UNC Charlotte we lived on the same floor (llth) of Scott Hall. As I look at her picture, it was the same smile that she always wore. I pray that God will continue to comfort and strengthen your family and friends. Always remember the times that you shared with her, as I will.
Latonia Rodman Laws
January 4, 2012
I am so sorry for your loss. May the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our pain and sorrow give you all the needed endurance to continue to go one day to next. Psalms 46:1
January 4, 2012
I am so sorry for your loss. As you endure the pain that comes with the death of a loved one, I pray that you also feel the love and support of family, friends, neighbors, and most importantly our heavenly father as he sustains you at this difficult time. Psalms 55:22
January 2, 2012
Our sincere sympathy to the Ritter Family. May your memories of a life well lived bring comfort and strength to you during this difficult time. Our prayers are with you. 2 Cor. 1:3,4
Jones Family
January 1, 2012
Still so hard to believe she is gone!!!
December 30, 2011
You will always live in my heart!!!
R. C. Redfearn
December 30, 2011
I'm sorry! for such a beautiful women who left us at a spring of life, who cared about everyone, exspecially young people. What could have happen to a person that Personify goodness, love, selflessness in regard to putting others first. when you read her story, you could see the joy that radiate from her face. I hope her family and friends and the young ones she help find comfort in the Bible 2Cor: 2, 3,
Dione Taylor
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