Bernard Eugene "Gene" Ritzinger
1930 - 2017
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Bernard "Gene" Eugene Ritzinger

Bernard Eugene Ritzinger, known to his friends and loved ones as Gene, died on November 5,

2017 at his home, surrounded by family, after a long illness.

Born in Jersey City, NJ, in 1930, Gene was the eldest child of Bernard Eugene and Florence Cowan Ritzinger. He joined the Navy at 19, serving 4 years, primarily in the submarine service aboard the USS Cutlass.

Gene began his journalism career at Michigan State University as an editor of the student newspaper and campus correspondent for the Detroit Free Press. He also worked before graduation as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Herald in Michigan. At Michigan State, Gene met Joan Cathleen Edwards and they were wed in 1957.

Upon graduation Gene joined the Wall Street Journal in NYC. He was transferred 2 years later to their Detroit bureau where he reported on the automobile industry. He was hired in 1964 by General Motors as a public relations executive in Detroit. Transferred in 1967 to Washington DC, as correspondent to the company's Sr. management, Gene reported on what transpired at congressional and regulatory agency hearings affecting the auto industry during a period of intense government scrutiny. Additionally, he wrote speeches for GM executives.

In 1973 Gene joined John Deere at its HQ in Moline, Illinois where he wrote hundreds of speeches for principal officers, as well as magazine articles, booklets, brochures, legislative testimony, financial reports, and letters needing careful answers on behalf of John Deere.

Gene retired in 1991 and he and Joan moved to Seattle, buying a home in suburban Lake Forest Park. In retirement he joined a Seattle tour company as a weekend summer driver/guide for about 9 years; there he provided tourists with narration covering Seattle's sites and history.

In 2003 Gene began volunteering at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Seattle. This led to part-time employment as a uniformed guide, a position he loved and held until 2013.

A news junkie, Gene was an avid reader of newspapers, magazines, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and history. He and Joan travelled abroad several times and enjoyed movies, plays, concerts and opera together. Gene was a devoted fan of the Seattle Mariners.

Gene is survived by his wife, Joan, as well as their children: Catherine J. Ritzinger, David (Andrew) Eugene Ritzinger and Jennifer E. Ritzinger, all residing in Seattle, as well as Sarah (Sallie) E. Ritzinger and grandson Dylan Phifer both of Everett; also his sister, Grace McDevitt of North Bergen NJ, and his brother, Gerard Ritzinger of Southport NC. He is preceded in death by his brother, Francis Ritzinger, and his sister, Marion Ritzinger Graham.

At Mr. Ritzinger's request there will be no public funeral services. Remembrances may be made to a charity of your choice.

Please sign Gene's online Guestbook at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Nov. 12, 2017.
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32 entries
December 15, 2017
Brotherhood of the Dolphin
To the Ritzinger Family,

On behalf of the Charleston Base SUBVETS and Swamp Fox Chapter SUBVETS WWII, I offer you our sincere condolences on Gene's passing. We grieve with you on the loss of your loved one and our shipmate. The SUBVETS will have your family in our thoughts and prayers. There is no expiration date on the back of our dolphins and Gene, who earned his 'fish' when he qualified on USS CUTLASS SS-478, will always be remembered as a Brother of the Phin and a great Patriot.

(SS) Bernard Eugene Ritzinger
US Navy Submarine Veteran
Now on Eternal Patrol
Sailor Rest Your Oar
Your Shipmates Have The Watch

Fair Winds and Following Seas Shipmate

Charleston Base Submarine Veterans
Nick Nichols, MTCM(SS) USN Ret.
Base Chaplain
Nick Nichols
December 4, 2017
Working with Gene Ritzinger has been one of the high points in my career with the National Park Service. He was an inspiring human being filled with wisdom, optimism, attention to detail, empathy, dedication, and service. The NPS was fortunate to count him among their ranks, and I am fortunate to have called him my friend.
Jacqueline Ashwell
November 26, 2017
November 26, 2017
November 26, 2017
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal Ritzinger
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal
November 26, 2017
Sal Gal
November 22, 2017
Many people born in to this world, especially nowadays, are lucky to have any surviving grandparents in their life. I was incredibly lucky to have both sets of mine around. What I am most thankful for though, is having Gene Ritzinger as my grandfather for 20 years of my existence.
I share so many memories with him. I remember when my 4th grade teacher was looking for a fun field trip for the class, my mother suggested we go to the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle, where he volunteered and worked for many years. We eventually went, and I remember thinking, how cool is it that my Grandpa works here? My whole class gets to meet a great man AND learn from him! Plus, I got to spend time with him! It was a fantastic day. I remember when we went Rode the Duck, a ferry touring service of Seattle. It was a hilarious tour, we laughed so much, and grandpa sparked an engaging conversation with everyone on that boat. It was a great time. I remember when me and my dad went to San Francisco on vacation, and met him down there. The three of us went to baseball games, walked throughout the city, and had a very fun time together. There are so many other memories I could bring up, but no matter what, they all share one characteristic; a great time being had with an enthusiastic person.
I have always looked up to my Grandfather. He was such an accomplished man throughout his life. Writing for one of the most prominent newspapers in the country, meeting US Presidents, and experiencing it all while being a real family man. He did so much.
He was always so proud of my accomplishments in life. From graduating high school, to getting my CAN finally, he always gave me a firm handshake and a look of pride when I told him these things. It was the best feeling ever. Any achievement I made, I would tell Grandpa about first. It always made me feel so happy and content. He always wanted the best for everyone in his family, and it greatly showed throughout his life. He took real pride in his family, when they did succeed, and even when we did not. He loved us all so much.
I love you so, so, so much Grandpa. Even writing this is quite rough. But every stride I take, every move in life I make, is going to be for you. If any task feels too hard to complete, what will get me through, is thinking of how proud you would be of me. That rewarding feeling will get me through life. And I know the same applies to all of our family. Because he cared so much for all of us, and always wanted the best and never wanted to see us fail. He was an incredible man and life's going to be harder without him. But I know everything I do will be for him, and he is resting much easier now, and I am glad for that.
Dylan Phifer
November 20, 2017
"We MSU grads have to stick together," Gene said, as he picked me up at Swedish Cherry Hill and gave me a ride all the way to my door in Clinton on Whidbey Island after I'd been carried out of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park with a stroke in 2012. Gene's presence at KLSE gave the place a scholarly sheen and a polish to the prose. I especially remember his adaptation of "A Call of the Wild" for Ruth Kerr's puppet show. I always felt a "tingle" when Gene was in the building for he brought dignity and a kind, quiet presence wherever he worked.
Jan Elyse Hughes
November 20, 2017
Gene was a very special man, and it warmed my heart so see some of the pictures below which were taken at times we spent together. This week I will be giving thanks for the opportunity I had to have gotten to know Gene.

Although no words are truly enough in this kind of loss, Joan and the rest of the Ritzinger family, please know that you have my sincere condolences.
Ilya Bukshteyn
November 19, 2017
Gene and his younger brother Gerard "Jerry" Ritzinger
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Yet another Mariner's loss
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
June 15, 1957
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Captain Ritzinger
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Ranger Ritzinger conducting tour atop the Smith Tower
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Ranger Ritzinger at the Klondike with grandson Dylan
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Gene with his books
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 19, 2017
Joan and Gene and good times
David "Andrew" Ritzinger
November 18, 2017
Gene, Joan & their 4 kids
Joan Ritzinger
November 16, 2017
Sometimes in life you just get lucky. For me, one of those things was to have called Gene my father in law. From almost the very beginning, I realized he would not only be my father in law, but a life time friend and for that, I will always be grateful. Our mutual love for the game of Baseball lead us to many years of great trips to Arizona for spring training, where we'd enjoyed a good hot dog, cold beer and the Arizona sun and of course the crack of the bat. It was also there that the idea sprung up that maybe, just maybe, we could see all the Major League Baseball Parks. It seemed that the more we talked about it, the more we both got excited to see if we could actually pull it off and away we went.

We didn't quit make it (5 short), but the journey we took to that point, created memories that will last me a life time. From Seattle to as far as Miami, Toronto and San Diego and on and on, we covered a lot of miles, with a lot of fun thrown in between. The last time I saw Gene (At the UW), I mentioned one of the trips we had made and even though he couldn't speak at the time, he wrote on a small piece of paper and handed it to me. It simply said Good Times. Yes they were Gene, some of the best of my life.

Gene's was a kind and generous man, his love for his family which included my son Dylan were always on display.

Joan, Sallie, Cathy, David (Andrew) and Jennifer, I feel for your pain.
May your memories of him bring you some comfort.

Rest in peace Gene, I'll miss you a great deal, but my memories of you will always bring a smile!

Jim Phifer
November 15, 2017
Goodby Old Friend. Lots of great memories over the years. You and I were the two poorest students at Michigan State and both paying out of State Tuition. Know you did well in you career and in your life. Know you have a great family who loves you and you loved them. Alwasys wondered if you eventually got to every major league stadium. Your story of the Queen of Greece should be in the halls of the Naval Academy.
George/Shirley Halpin
November 14, 2017
He was a true scholar, intelligent and well educated. He could converse on many subjects. He was a wonderful neighbor and we will miss him greatly. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family, friends, and loved ones.
Barbara and Bill Hensley
November 14, 2017
Gene as a true gentleman and scholar and I was fortunate to have gotten to know him as a volunteer at the Klondike Gold Rush Nat'l. Historic Park's Seattle visitors center. A day spent with Gene was always a day well spent. His kind manner and deep knowledge base on many and sundry topics is sorely missed.
Jim Wells
November 14, 2017
I worked with Gene at the park in Seattle. Many Saturday mornings we spent talking history, politics, baseball; he had a wide and deep breadth of knowledge gained, by the time wed met, by rich experience. He enjoyed working with visitors in interpreting the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and Seattle. Gene also led summer Walking Tours, taking guests from around the world on tour of Pioneer Square. He very much enjoyed the company of others.

I gained quite a bit having known Gene. He will be missed.
Jim Loring
November 13, 2017
On behalf of the United States Submarine Veterans (USSVI), I offer our sincere condolences on Bernard's passing. You and your loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers. We are forever grateful for Bernard's service to our country in the U.S. Submarine Service. To our Brother we say, Sailor, rest your oar. We have the watch. May you rest in peace and may God bless your loved ones who remain. Thank you for your service to our country."

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way." 2 Thess 3:16.

Bernard Eugene Ritzinger, US Navy, Now on Eternal Patrol.
Fair Winds and Following Seas Shipmate.

Bill Dixon, National Chaplain United States Submarine Veterans, USSVI.
Bill Dixon
November 12, 2017
One of the finest gentleman I have known and a true friend. We were two old sailors who loved to swap "sea stories". most of which were only slightly embellished. I will miss him.
Richard Jacobs
November 12, 2017
I remember when Gene and Joan surprised me by showing up at my restaurant in Santa Cruz in the early 90's. They both just stood to the side until I finally looked up and spotted them, huge smiles on their faces, which my smile soon matched. I've heard that what is important is how people feel when they think of you. And just like in that moment, seeing Gene and Joan there just warmed me up and made me feel so happy and special. I will miss Gene, and I send my love to the rest of the family.
Hannah Pederson
November 12, 2017
Eugene sounds like such an incredible man who enjoyed life, worked hard and loved his family. My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.
Kathi Allen
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