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Donald Lincoln Ritter, 79, of Greenville, passed away at home Sunday evening September 11, 2005. The son of Clare & Fern (Stewart) Ritter, he was born on Abraham Lincolns birthday, February 12, 1926 in Stanton. A disabled veteran of World War II, Don served aboard a minesweeper in the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy from 1944-46 and was a life member of the Lester J. Sitts Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5065 in Sheridan. On October 30, 1947, in Greenville, he married the former Joyce Irene Brown.

A strict Democrat and Union supporter, Don was proud to represent the members of United Auto Workers Local No. 137 at the former Gibson Refrigerator Company. He hired in at age 22 years on February 12, 1948 as a packer and soon became an active member of the Union. In the mid to late 1950s while working as a nailer, building wooden crates for shipping refrigerators, Don was elected Department Steward, as position which he held until 1965. In July of 1965 he was nominated and elected to serve on the Local 137 Strike Committee. On April 15, 1967 he was nominated and elected Deputy Chief Steward night shift which he held and served until 1975 when he had to resign due to health reasons. During his representing career to the Union members of Local 137, Don was nominated and elected four consecutive times to serve the Local as UAW Convention Delegate, 1968, 1970, and 1972 in Atlantic City, New Jersey where he met the late Walter Ruther. Don was also a UAW Convention Delegate in 1974 which was held in Los Angeles, California. He retired on June 1, 1976 with 28 years of dedication and loyal service to the Company and Union.

After retirement Don kept active being a vocal participant in the UAW Local 137 Retiree Chapter. Don was always willing to assist the Local 137 Citizen Legislative Committee and the UAW I.M.G.I. Cap Council in Election years through campaign literature distribution and working yearly at the Ionia Free Fair Booth. He also assisted the Local 137 Community Service Committee with Project Rest Stop I96 Bring them back alive by manning the booth during Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day holiday weekends.

Don was a person for the people as he was always willing to help friends, acquaintances and neighbors by driving them to Doctor appointments, helping as a handyman; unplugging a sink, fixing a neighbors wheelchair or just being there for someone to talk to. Any of you who knew Donald L. Ritter knows just how much the Union, Democratic Party and the Community meant to him. There wasnt a more dedicated activist and supporter than he was. A favorite quote: If it wasnt for the Union and the Democratic Party, I wouldnt have what I have today!

He was preceded in death by a son, Edward Joe Ritter in 1984; and an older brother, Edward Ritter in 1988. Surviving are his wife of almost 58 years, Joyce Ritter of Greenville; a daughter, Linda S. & Arnold Andersen of Greenville; two sons, David C. & Elena Ritter of Greenville, and Glenn L. Ritter of Sheridan; three brothers, Arthur Ritter of Stanton, Ellis & Lorraine Ritter of Sidney, Gerald Dute & Sharon Ritter of Stanton; a sister, Avis & Howard Elenbass of Grand Rapids; a step-brother, Duane & Susan Bidelman of White Cloud. Also surviving are five grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Honoring Don’s wishes, private family services were held with cremation following at Myrtle Park Crematorium.

THE FAMILY INVITES RELATIVES AND FRIENDS TO JOIN THEM FOR A MILITARY TRIBUTE SERVICE AT 12:00 NOON ON WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28, 2005 AT THE SHERIDAN V.F.W. POST. A TIME OF FOOD AND FELLOWSHIP WILL IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW AT THE VFW HALL.

In lieu of flowers, Don would have preferred memorial contributions to the Flat River Community Library.


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