Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Ronald Aires Ritter

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, Ronald Aires Ritter left the earthly home he built in Fallbrook in 1985, for his heavenly home. Ron was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sept. 7, 1938, the fifth of six children born to John and Viola Ritter.

Some of his favorite memories were his years as a child living on Chilton Street in Baltimore. He graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1961, with a B.S. in Business Administration. While in college, he was active with the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE).

In 1958, he played on the National Championship Soccer Team of Drexel University. He attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, and graduated in 1970 with a degree of Bachelor of Theology. He pursued advanced study at Loyola College in Baltimore, the University of Glasgow in Scotland, U.K., and Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

He married the love of his life, Judith Anne Orendorff, of York, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 7, 1967, at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Baltimore.

Chaplain Ritter served his vicarage (internship) assignment at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduating from the seminary, he served as the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Belding, Michigan, from 1970-1974.

From 1960-1965, Chaplain Ritter served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, performing most of his duty with the 4th Engineering Battalion in Baltimore. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal.

His U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps duty assignments from 1974-1994 included Destroyer Squadron 31 in San Diego; Marine Corps Combat Readiness Training Group 10 in Yuma, Arizona; Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 in Port Hueneme, California; Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, California; 3rd Marine Division Okinawa; 1st Marine Division (1st Marines) Camp Pendleton; Naval Hospital San Diego, Naval Support Activity; Holy Loch, Scotland; and Marine Aircraft Group 39 at Camp Pendleton. He retired from active duty at the grade of Commander in 1994.

His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy Battle “E” Ribbon, Organized Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, Navy Fleet Marine Force Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and Overseas Service Ribbon with one star. Upon completion of active duty, Chaplain Ritter was awarded the Bronze St. Martin of Tours Medal by his church body, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

After losing his son, Steve, in a car accident in 1987, Chaplain Ritter worked tirelessly to help those grieving the loss of a loved one. Chaplain Ritter was commissioned in 1996 by the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to provide Bereavement Ministry to the congregations in the district. In this capacity he conducted Grief Support Training for the clergy, and laity of its 300 congregations.

Since 1996, he trained 100 congregations, and over 1,000 men and women in bereavement ministry. He joined the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) in 1989 and earned the designation of Certified Thanatologist.

Chaplain Ritter was the founder and director of Eagle’s Wings, a nonprofit bereavement program for widowed military veterans, retirees and their spouses. Present day, Eagle’s Wings operates from the Veteran’s Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park, San Diego.

In retirement, he continued his pastoral work, and served as Assistant/Visitation Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Hemet from 2009-2019.

While stationed on Camp Pendleton, the Ritter family made Fallbrook their permanent residence in 1985. The Ritter’s are active members at Zion Lutheran Church. Ron served on Ag Boosters while his children were active with Fallbrook FFA and 4-H clubs. He served as the Chaplain at VFW Post 1924 Fallbrook and on the board of the Fallbrook Fire Safe Council.

One of Ron’s proudest accomplishments was creating a strong family, founded in God’s everlasting love. Ron Ritter is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judith Anne Ritter; his three living children, John Francis Ritter, Timothy Andrew Ritter and Elizabeth Anne (Jason) Schwartze; and seven grandchildren: Hailey Ritter-Kelso, Logan Ritter, Benjamin Ritter-Kelso, Charlie Ritter, Gwendolyn Schwartze, Steven Chad Schwartze and Clark Schwartze. He is joined in Heaven by his son, Steven Michael Ritter (1970-1987).

Services will be held Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 10 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Fallbrook, and graveside with Full Military Honors at Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please direct support to: Zion Lutheran Church,1405 E. Fallbrook Street, Fallbrook, CA 92028; Veterans Museum in Balboa Park attn: Eagle’s Wings, 2115 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101.


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