John Brooks “Jack” Ritchey of Sarasota, Fla., a highly regarded yachtsman and retired IBM executive, died April 17 of complications from Parkinson's disease. The husband for 53 years of Jane Barber “Putsie” Ritchey was 79.
Mr. Ritchey was one of six “amateurs” selected to enhance the professional crew aboard the Schooner “America,” Rudy Schaefer's replica of the original America's Cup winner, during a 1968 re-enactment of the 1851 race around the Isle of Wight from Cowes, England.
It was one of many seagoing experiences he enjoyed as an owner or invited crewman on numerous races to Bermuda and elsewhere. He was equally adept as a soloist skippering Dhow Dinghies and Frostbite dinghies, and holds the record for 12 consecutive winters as Frostbite champion of the Norwalk Yacht Club where he was a longtime member.
“Jack was a great small boat sailor which made him a valuable offshore sailor, too ,” said Bill Thomson, a former commodore of the Norton Yacht Club. “He was a good shipmate who was comfortable and knowledgeable with any part of the boat. He was good on the helm and very agile on deck and in the rigging.”
Mr. Ritchey, a native of New York City, devoted 32 years to a career with IBM in a variety of assignments, the last as a manager of the data security department. He and his wife raised their two sons in Rowayton, first on Crescent Beach Road, Pine Point, and later in Nathan Hale Drive, Wilson Point.
He was raised on Delafield Island in Darien the son of the late Norton V. and Ruth Brooks Ritchey. His father was president of the International Division of Allied Artists. An uncle on his maternal side was the late Yale University President A. Whitney Griswold.
After preparing at St. Luke School and Westminster School, Mr. Ritchey graduated from the University of Virginia in 1953. With his NROTC college training and further study at Newport (R.I.) Naval College, he served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy for three years aboard a patrol boat off the New England coast. He was a mainstay of the Rowayton Nativity Pageant and a member of the Cruising Club of America, the Salty Old Boaters and Ischoda Yacht Club.
Also surviving are sons, John Brooks Ritchey Jr. and wife, Sarah, of Norwalk and Peter William Ritchey and wife, Nancy, of Wilton; a sister, Jean R. Ross and husband Wallace Ross of Vero Beach, Fla.; four granddaughters, Robin and Kelsey Ritchey of Wilton and Campbell and Lauren Ritchey of Norwalk; niece Carolyn Bora Gould of Concord, Mass., and nephew Douglas A. Bora Jr. of Darien. The family thanks caregivers Renel Vincent, Whidny Antoine and Abdul Aziz Baig.
A celebration Captain Jack's life to be held at the Norwalk Yacht Club will be announced later in the spring.
Memorials may be sent to the American Parkinson's Foundation, Inc., Parkinson Plaza, 125 Parkinson's Place, Staten Island, N.Y., 10305; Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium of Sarasota, Fla., 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236, the Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk, 10 North Water St., South Norwalk, Ct., 06854, or the Westminster School, Attn: Maggie Pinney, 995 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, Ct., 06070.
Hoyt Cognetta Funeral Home of East Wall Street, Norwalk, is handling arrangements. FXF
Norwalk's Hoyt-Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory, 5 East Wall Street is honored to assist the Ritchie family with the arrangements.
Born: August 8, 1931
Death: April 17, 2011
Place of Death: Residence - Norwalk
This memorial provided by:
Hoyt-Cognetta Funeral Home & Crematory