William ĎBillí Ritter, 98
William "Bill" Ritter was born Feb. 2, 1912, into a family that was closely connected to the history of the Cedarburg community. He was a 1930 graduate of Cedarburg High School and went on to attend Lawrence College. He then began working in the Ritterís soda water business, a local beverage firm that was started in 1888 by his grandfather, Henry Ritter. Bill was a businessman of fine character, honesty and integrity who was kind, considerate and a good citizen. He retired and closed the business in the 1970s.
As a young man, he excelled in various sports. He was a high scoring basketball player and played on the Cedarburg Turners team in the Land OíLakes League. In his basketball career he acquired the nickname of "Fiddle Case" Ritter because of his size 14 shoes. He also enjoyed tennis and won both in menís singles and menís doubles in local tennis tournaments held throughout the years. Bill was an avid fisherman, and the love of this sport was shared by his wife, Evie. They spent many happy hours fishing on Lake Winnebago, both as a couple and with their fishing buddy friends.
Chief Ritter joined the Cedarburg Volunteer Fire Department on March 4, 1933, and was a charter member of the rescue squad that was organized in 1938. He was one of the volunteers who trained the men in nearby communities when they subsequently organized rescue squad units. He served as first assistant chief for 23 years, from May 3, 1940, to May 3, 1963, when he was elected chief. He served as chief for 15 years, retiring on May 5, 1978. Bill was actively involved with the purchase of the land known as "Firemenís Park," where the Ozaukee County Fair and many community activities have been held throughout the years. It was during his administration that the plans for the new firehouse were proposed and completed. As a retired chief he continued to stay active as a passive firefighter, attending monthly meetings, firemen functions and working at Maxwell Street Days. In October 1999, a dedication was held for the Cedarburg Fire Department Chief William G. Ritter Training Facility. Until age 97, he still attended department breakfast meetings twice a month.
Bill was a partner with his wife in the antique shop, "Evieís Antiques." They could always be seen together at their antique stand at every Cedarburg Maxwell Street Day.
As a lifetime, active member of Advent Lutheran Church, he served in numerous capacities, including the church council, minister call committee and as the churchís street crossing guard for many years.
He was gifted with an amazing memory of dates, people and events, which made him someone with a wealth of information regarding the people and happenings in the history of Cedarburg. He loved to share those stories to the joy and interest of those who were privileged to hear them. He contributed as a member of the panel for the series of "Remembering Cedarburg" chats held in 2000.
In recognition of his contributions to the community of Cedarburg, he received many awards and honors throughout his lifetime, including those from the Cedarburg Fire Department, Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, city of Cedarburg, Association of Ozaukee County Fire Departments, Badger Firemenís Association and the state Legislature.
Although legally blind and extremely hard of hearing, he lived independently after Evieís death in the family home in which he had been born. In September 2008, due to health issues, he moved into Main Street Quarters, the assisted living facility of Oregon Manor in Oregon, Wis., in order to enjoy being close by his daughter, Sally, and numerous other family members.
William "Bill" Ritter was a most loving, caring and giving man who was treasured by his family, by whom he was lovingly known as "Poppy," and was loved and respected by all whose lives he touched. He will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to know him.
Bill is survived by his three daughters, Billie (Anthony) Massaro, Susan (the late James) Mueller and Sally (Thomas) Mueller; 10 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and three great great grandchildren.
Bill was preceded in death by his loving wife, Evie, and a sister, Lola Ritter.
A funeral service was held on Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at 10 a.m. at Advent Lutheran Church, W63 N642 Washington Ave., Cedarburg. Interment was at Zur Ruhe Cemetery following the service. Visitation was held at Mueller Funeral Home, W63 N527 Hanover Ave., Cedarburg, on Sunday, Jan. 9, from noon to 3 p.m. and also at the church on Monday, Jan. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Cedarburg Fire Department or Advent Lutheran Church of Cedarburg.
Mueller Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the family.