Thomas Ryterske

Date of Birth

Feb 19,1950

Date of Death

Sep 25,2015

Thomas Paul Ryterske, age 65, of Lily Lake, passed away suddenly at his home, on Friday, September 25, 2015. He was born February 19, 1950, in Racine, WI, the son of Peter Paul Jr. and Mary (Thraen) Ryterske. Tom grew up in Racine and attended St. Edward Catholic Grade School, Park High School, and graduated from J.I. Case High School with the class of 1968. Tom continued his education at the University of Wisconsin Parkside. He later transferred to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources in 1972. After completion of military service, Tom received his Master of Science degree in Natural Resources from his alma mater in 1976.
Tom met his wife, Donna Zilles, on a blind date in April, 1971. They endured a long distance relationship due to the fact that they attended different universities in different cities in Wisconsin. They married on November 11, 1972 at St. Matthias Catholic Church, Milwaukee, WI.
Following college graduation, Tom was drafted into the United States Army. Tom elected to enlist into the Artillery Branch of Officer Candidate School. Tom went into basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina just six days after their wedding. After completion of Basic Training, Tom began the Officer Candidate School (OCS) training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Following Donna’s college graduation in May, 1973, she joined him at Ft. Sill. Tom graduated OCS in 1973 and was assigned as a second lieutenant training officer at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. After completion of active duty, Tom switched from Artillery Branch to the Engineering Branch in the National Guard and the Army Reserves. Tom served with honor and distinction for a total of 29 years—three years active duty and twenty-six years in the Reserves before being honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2001.
After receiving his Masters degree, Tom accepted a job with the State of North Dakota as a Soil Scientist, working in Bottineau. It was there that they welcomed their first daughter, Rachel. Within the first month of her birth, Tom and Donna moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota where Tom began working for the United States Department of Agriculture in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1977. Their family grew in 1979 when they were blessed with their second daughter, Kathryn (Kate). In August, 1980, Tom transferred to St. Charles, IL where his position was District Conservationist for Kane and DuPage counties for the NRCS. A few months later, the family would be complete with the birth of their daughter, Sarah. Tom remained in his position as district conservationist for 32 years before retiring in 2012.
Tom was a member of the 416th Engineer Command (ENCOM) Association located in Darien, IL, where he was on the board as membership chair. Tom also was a faithful and active member of S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, sitting on the education board, finance committee and he was a long time lector.
Tom has been a consistent platelet donor for many years and received several recognitions from Heartland Blood Center for his life saving donations. He was an avid reader and loved to study maps and learn about Native American history. Tom’s extensive knowledge of nature astounded family and friends alike. He loved to garden and grew a variety of peppers which were the hallmark of his famous chili. When he was younger, Tom enjoyed hunting with his Dad and fishing with his Dad and Grandpa. Tom was proud of his German, Polish, and Danish ancestry but it was Tom’s “Viking” ancestry that he gravitated towards. With his red hair, he often claimed he was descended from Eric the Red. In recent years, Tom became an avid Chicago Blackhawks fan but enjoyed watching all types of sports. Retirement afforded him the opportunity to visit and spend time with his father in Racine, WI. Tom has a quiet strength and a presence that was one of a kind. He was devoted to his family and loved to be surrounded by them, especially on the hundreds of hikes and many family vacations to various State and National Parks. The annual Chicago Air and Water Show delighted the whole family and stoked his unfulfilled wished to be a pilot.
Tom adored his wife and daughters and they adored him back. Tom grew up with three sisters; raised three daughters; doted on his granddaughter, Amelia; and was finally blessed with his grandson, Emmett, born the day before he passed away. He is survived by his loving wife, Donna; three daughters: Rachel (Brian) Coates; Kathryn Ryterske; and Sarah (John) Pogvara; Two grandchildren; Amelia and Emmett Coates; His father, Peter Paul Ryterske; Three sisters: Connie (Jim) Runge; Jeanne (Mark) Schaefer: and Susan (Marty) Halscik; Sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Diane and Jack Geisel and Robert and Georjean Zilles; Many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends—especially his best friend Ben Mar. Tom is preceded in death by his mother, Mary Ryterske.
Visitation will be Thursday, October 1, 2015 at S.S. Peter and Paul Parish Center, Virgil, IL from 4-8 p.m. A mass to celebrate his faith will be Friday, October 2, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. with a time of visitation from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Fr. Perfecto Vasquez, pastor of the church, will officiate. Private family interment will follow at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery at a later date.
Memorials in Tom’s name can be forwarded to St. Jude’s Hospital. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at or on the Conley Funeral Home Facebook Page.

A mass to celebrate his faith be Friday, 11 a.m., with a time of visitation from 9:30-10:45 a.m., October 2, 2015, at S.S. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. Fr. Perfecto Vasquez, pastor of the church, will officiate.

Visitation will be Thursday, October 1, 2015, at S.S. Peter & Paul Parish Center, Virgil, IL, from 4-8 p.m.

Private family interment will follow at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery at a later date.

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