Date of Birth

November 20, 1944

Date of Death

March 7, 2022

David J. Ritchie Sr, age 77, of Naperville, passed away peacefully Monday evening, March 7, 2022.

He was born in Wichita, KS, on November 20, 1944, to loving parents, Robert and Mary Ritchie.

David grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, and attended local schools. Following graduation from high school, David furthered his education at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and Carnegie Technical College in Pittsburg, PA, where he received his doctorate. He began working at Fermilab in Batavia in the summer of 1971.

Ginny McLaughlin, stage manager and actress for a local acting troupe, Playmakers, tried to recruit David while he worked at Fermilab. Following a whirlwind first “date”, David won her heart and her hand soon after. Ginny and David were united in marriage on April 12, 1980 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in St. Charles, IL.

They began their new life on Rt. 25 near the Fox River in St. Charles but found a more permanent home two blocks from what is now the Town and Country Book Store. In 1985, they moved to Naperville. A great sadness swept through the family as they grieved Ginny’s passing in 2012, but David continued to celebrate the memories they had, at the same time he and the family began making new ones to cherish.

David’s working career was born in the early days of Fermilab in 1971, when Wilson Hall was a work in progress and Monarch butterflies carpeted the many picturesque acres. Early excitement at the time surrounded an indication of the first circulating beam in the main accelerator ring. He spent much of his laboratory career writing and debugging programs which changed and evolved as the technology grew in leaps and bounds. Though he loved the work, David also made it his mission to “interface” with staff, visitors, and students. He was a mentor to many, several of which went on to lasting and noteworthy careers. Before his retirement in 2011, he headed the Communications and Outreach Group and organized Fermilab’s participation in the annual Supercomputing Conference.  

David was always very enthusiastic about education and loved teaching introductory classes to middle school students. Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons found him feeding the minds of the next generation as they learned the Pearl and Python programming languages. His cats had a special place in his heart, especially Quantum. David helped his community as a booster, supporting several schools. His sons were the light of his life and spent quality time teaching them how to garden so they could know where food came from, built and blasted model rockets as high as their imagination could take them, and took the family to Fermilab conferences in Colorado, which always brought forth a myriad of new memories. He loved to eat and “specialized” in desserts or anything sweet. Astronomy piqued his interest, gazing into the universe and trying to unravel its secrets using his telescope. Neighbors quickly became friends, no matter their walk in life, and his steadfast morality was like a trusty compass: always showing true north. Theater spoke to his heart and he indulged by his time in support of Playmakers, as well as his favorite works by Shakespeare. David had an ear for music and enjoyed classical music concerts in addition to taking in many symphonies over the years. His lifelong fascination with computers and “big science”, served as a catalyst which ignited the ambition of many sponsored summer students who came to treasure him as their mentor.  

He is survived by his two sons, David “Jamie” Ritchie and Rob (Kristin) Ritchie; one half-brother, George Ritchie; several nieces, nephews, cousins and a community of friends who will remember him well and miss him deeply.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Mary Ritchie, his wife Ginny, and a brother Robert Ritchie.

Visitation will be Wednesday, March 16, 2022, from 12-1:30 p.m., at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A remembrance service where family and friends will share their favorite memories will follow the visitation at the funeral home. Private burial will occur at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in David’s name to benefit local charities. Checks may be made to the “David J. Ritchie Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address, the Conley Funeral Home Facebook Page, or at www.conleycare.com.

Visitation will be Wednesday, March 16, 2022, from 12-1:30 p.m., at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A remembrance service where family and friends will share their favorite memories will follow the visitation at the funeral home. Private burial will occur at a later date.

10 thoughts on “DAVID J. RITCHIE SR.

  1. To Dave (Jamie) and Rob, so sorry for your loss. I knew Dave and Ginny for many years at Fermi as I worked there for 33 yrs. They both were the sweetest and kindest couples always happy and always willing to help whoever needed help. I can truthfully say that they both made their marks at Fermi. Now they are joined again in their heavenly home. Remember all the great things your Dad taught you as you are his legacies. Remember all the great times you shared and may they give you comfort in the coming months, but they are always in your heart. Prayers for your families. Sherry from Sparta, Tn.

  2. Very sad to hear of David’s passing. So many good memories across the years of David and Ginny, and then sadly just David, and the family. Yes, at Fermilab, Supercomputing and Colorado conferences, and celebrations such as July 4th. The obituary echoes our warm memories of David’s commitment over many years to the people, activities, and ethics that he had; and his energy and enthusiasm for them all until illness gradually sapped them. Jamie and Rob – our condolences to you both. Your father is a “A life well lived.”

    Ruth and Stephen Pordes

  3. I was very sad to hear about Dave’s passing. I knew him for many years at Fermilab. He was a very nice person and I liked him. My condolences to his family.

  4. I was one of those fortunate people mentored by Dave, during his tenure as head of the DEC Systems Group. What a wonderful, funny, kind and thoughtful man he was. Generous with his time, a great educator, and always wearing a big smile. He will be missed by many. My heartfelt condolences to the family.

  5. David and Family, we are so very sorry for the loss of your dad. We are fortunate to have met him when he came with you to our house for Christmas those many years ago, and spend even more time with him at your graduation. He was a very nice man and we know that he will be missed.

  6. Its sad to hear of the passing of respected colleagues, but its the price to go with the pleasure of growing old. David was very helpful to me when I was assigned to the Computing Department in 1984 through 1989; his contributions were enormous. He remained a good friend and colleague until I left the lab in 2008. My condolences to his family.

  7. Such sad news…
    Dear Jamie and Rob, Rocky and I were so sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad. He was always such a joy—sharing the history of the early days at Fermilab, about the Library, about computing and high energy physics experiments, and about the Village and the Children’s Center. He and Ginny took a special interest in Jamie’s classmates, our youngest children, Jeff and Christine. He contributed so much to life at, and awareness of, Fermilab. His many contribution are included in special collections of all media in the Fermilab History Room & Archives.
    With love we extend our most sincere condolences and deepest sympathy on your loss.

  8. I was saddened to hear of Dave’s passing. While I didn’t know him very well personally, I know of a lot of his accomplishments for the lab, and am grateful for his dedication to it over the decades. My heart felt condolences to the family. I will always think of Dave as part of the Fermilab family.

  9. David will remain with me forever as an exceptionally kind man, both a people person, keenly interested in family and young people, as well as basic and fundamental science, specifically Physics (of course). He gave sage advice and wisdoms on the raising of children, being active and engaged in his community and his love for his profession. He and Ginny had a charmed marriage that still inspires me. His joy and love, and ‘father-forever’ role in his children lives was clear. A real accomplishment in life, he was unmistakably well rounded. Added to that, he was also quite intellectual and highly specialized in his field — interested and passionate about it well after retirement. I am Blessed to have had him in my life as my older (half) brother.

  10. Reading of the passing of Dave Ritchie brought back memories of being at Fermilab, at lunch with Dave. It was wonderful to talk with him. He was connected to the lab in a way I was not, but still we loved it together. In these difficult time I know what Dave would be thinking and helping with, the difficulties of Ukrainian people. Not in a political way, but in a way that talked of the suffering of everyday folks. That was Dave.

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