At high noon on August 22, 2013, R.J. "Tex" Ritter, passed away while holding the hand of his loving wife of 56 yrs, Alice Mae Aupied Ritter, surrounded by his three devoted children, Nadine M. Ritter, R.J. Ritter, Jr., and B.J. Ritter, after only a few days' illness. Friends, family and colleagues mourn his unexpected loss. He was born in 1936 in New Orleans, LA to John Alvin Ritter and Annette Marie Daigle Ritter. He had one brother (deceased), three half-brothers (one deceased), and six half-sisters (one deceased). His legacy will continue in his beloved grandchildren, Shaun Mikel Kalani Ritter, Brett Alan Alakai Ritter, William Random...
At high noon on August 22, 2013, R.J. "Tex" Ritter, passed away while holding the hand of his loving wife of 56 yrs, Alice Mae Aupied Ritter, surrounded by his three devoted children, Nadine M. Ritter, R.J. Ritter, Jr., and B.J. Ritter, after only a few days' illness. Friends, family and colleagues mourn his unexpected loss. He was born in 1936 in New Orleans, LA to John Alvin Ritter and Annette Marie Daigle Ritter. He had one brother (deceased), three half-brothers (one deceased), and six half-sisters (one deceased). His legacy will continue in his beloved grandchildren, Shaun Mikel Kalani Ritter, Brett Alan Alakai Ritter, William Random Ritter Ward, Ashley Brandon Rosenthal, Patton Daniel Ritter, James Geraden Ritter Ward, and Kenton Lesley Ritter, assisted by his son-in-law William J. Ward, and his two daughters-in-law, Sheri Lei Hayashi Ritter and Debra Rosenthal-Ritter.
Mr. Ritter led a very active professional life, starting with his enlistment in the Navy during the Korean War followed by a stint in the Coast Guard. As a radioman then a deep-sea diver, he worked with atomic weapon development projects including participation in the first underwater nuclear test, Operation WigWam on the USS TAWASA. During the 1960's he was a volunteer in the Louisiana Civil Air Patrol while he trained as a marine engineer. He worked for decades with firms including Ingersoll-Rand, Sullair, and Grasso as a design engineer and technical expert. Many colorful stories abound of his wit and wisdom in the field, including an equipment repair made with a Coke bottle.
As a father, he became very involved in community service including the Lions Club and Little League Baseball. For over 10 yrs he was an LLB umpire at the senior and big league levels, tolerating many bruises on his elbows and shins from wild pitches by strong teens. Throughout his life, Mr. Ritter was an avid fisherman and hunter, prowling the Gulf Coast with his sport buddies for fur, fin and feathers. In the Navy, he held the #1 national position for marksmanship. His civilian sharp-shooting skills included on-the-fly assistance to less capable colleagues in bagging trophies that were getting away. He was a proud mentor to his kids and grandkids at the fishing hole and gun range; evidence indicated they inherited his eagle eye and skilled hands. His BBQ pit was a source of legends around the world.
After his military records became declassified, Mr. Ritter launched a second 'career' as a major advocate in the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV), ultimately becoming National Commander, the position he held until his death. He performed significant research into the history of US and international nuclear weapons development, independently producing the documentary "One-Thousand Suns", which presents the complete story, including declassified images, of global atomic bomb testing. He was selected as the Atomic Veterans' representative on the Veterans' Advisory Board on (Radiation) Dose Reconstruction chartered by Congress. There, he passionately advocated for accuracy in the assessment of exposure for individuals involved in nuclear activities, and compensation for those affected by their atomic service.
At a time when most men start winding down their life's activities, Mr. Ritter turned his enormous energies into serving as a dedicated expert and advocate for atomic veterans' issues, becoming a nationally-recognized, highly respected figure. He was an active member of the American Legion (Post 490; 41 yrs), Veterans of Foreign Wars (Post 5619; life member), and the Loyal Order of Moose (Lodge 1721; 14 yrs). He was made an honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy (2001), as well as an official Kentucky Colonel (1981). As hallmark of his tireless engagements, he was a guest at breakfast in the White House with President George W. Bush for in a wreath-laying ceremony on Veteran's Day, 2005.
Mr. Ritter was loved and admired by his family, respected and honored by his friends. He lived an extraordinarily large life, leaving us all with many colorful stories of his exploits and accomplishments. His children and grandchildren, by nature and by nurture, have inherited a great legacy by his example. To honor his dedication to the health and welfare of veterans, the family respectfully requests that donations be made in honor of R. J. Ritter, Sr. ("Tex") to the Wounded Warrior Project of Houston (www.woundedwarriorproject.org
). We also welcome memorial comments about him on his Guest Book at Forest Park East, where you can see a photo show celebrating his life.