Nancy Lou Ritchey
Las Cruces - Nancy Lou Ritchey, 76 of Las Cruces passed away peacefully, in the presence of her husband Sam and daughter Amy on Sunday, June 21, 2020. She touched so many lives and contributed generously to each community where Sam and she resided.
Nancy was born in Claremont, New Hampshire to Herman and Martha (Schweinfurth) Van Houten on September 16, 1943. She and her older brother Judd grew up together and she attended public schools in New Hampshire and high school in the Pittsburgh area. She graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, which included a year at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria, where she majored in voice performance and piano.
Nancy met Samuel, the love of her life, at a Methodist church, when she was 16 and they married in Pittsburgh on December 18, 1965. They would have celebrated 55 years of marriage in December.
Nancy's second love had always been music and she served several churches and community choral groups as director, soloist and organist/pianist, including Littleton Community Church, which she and Sam founded in Colorado.
Before this time, she worked in the insurance industry in Denver for 18 years. She was a member of the senior management staff at Colorado Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and served as Regional Manager for the Western Insurance Information Service, recruiting and training speakers in 4 states and moderated on panels at industry events. She was named "Industry Person of the Year" in 1989 by the Professional Insurance Agents of Colorado.
When Sam and Nancy moved to Las Cruces in 1994, she joined Sam's Ritchey Marketing & Advertising, a firm he had started a few years prior. When Sam returned to the ministry in November 2002, they birthed Wellspring Church, with Nancy as music director. She was also a private voice, piano teacher and speech coach. She served as the Director of Mesilla Valley Chorale for the past 18 years and dearly loved her Wellspring and chorale "families".
She is survived by her spouse, Sam Ritchey; her daughter, Amy Stevens of Las Cruces; her son, Eric Ritchey and his wife Addie Ritchey of Salisbury, NC; grandsons, Tyler and Ryan Stevens of Elko, NV; grandsons, Jim and Jonathon Ritchey of Salisbury, NC; great grandson, Liam Stevens of Elko, NV; sister-in-law, Edye Van Houten of Fort Wayne, IN; nephew, Chris (Lisa) Van Houten of Churubusco, IN; cousin, John (Diane) Kerr of Elk River, MN; cousin, Bob (Cathy) Kerr of David, CA; cousin, Marie Barbato of Matthews, NC; sister-in-law, Marge Turk of Cedar Falls, IA; nephew, Greg (Lynn) Turk of Seattle, WA; niece, Kerri (Neil) Clopton of Waterloo, IA; cousin, Beth (Bob) Teeter of Altoona, PA; cousin, John (Barb) Martz of Loudon, TN; cousin, Christina (John) Dickhoff of Northhampton, PA and cousin, Linda (Derk) Alvis of Athens, WV. She is preceded in death by her parents, Herman and Martha Van Houten; her brother, Judson Van Houten; nephew, Mark Van Houten and mother-in-law, Marion Myers.
Due to Covid 19, formal services will not be held, however, a Celebration of Life will take place in Las Cruces, in the undetermined future.
A few of her many friends shared the following:
"Nancy was love personified. A shining light."
"Her joyous spirit and sparkling good nature were contagious."
"She was a wonderful inspiration to all she encountered."
"The best of the best. She touched so many lives in such a beautiful way."
"Nancy always made you feel special when you were around her."
"She always had such a positive attitude, one of encouragement to so many!!"
"She was always optimistic and had a beautiful smile."
"She was near and dear to my heart, like a sister."
"Nancy was an important light to many, many in our community, because she brought the light of music to us all."
"A beautiful person in all ways. An absolute delight!"
"She was a joyous light in our world and to anyone she met."
"Today she's leading a choir of angels singing in heaven."
"This morning felt a little darker and I realized some of our light (Nancy) left our community when it reunited with the Light."
Published in Las Cruces Sun News from Jun. 27 to Jun. 29, 2020.