Stephen Douglas Ritchie
by Eleanor Karn
(Lafayette, CA USA )
On Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at 7:30 pm, Stephen Douglas Ritchie, age 63, of Lafayette slipped away peacefully at Brun’s House Hospice in Alamo, CA after a long battle with cancer, with his wife Eleanor by his side.
Steve leaves behind his wife, Eleanor Karn, and his sons, John and Scott Ritchie, residents of Lafayette, California; his brother Ron and sister-in-law Carla, of Stoughton, Wisconsin; and his sister Barbara, of Daytona Beach, Florida. He also leaves his dog Teddy and cat Bud.
Steve was the son of Dorothy and Charles Ritchie; he was born in Ridley Park, PA on February 21, 1948. He grew up in South Jersey with his older brother Ron and his younger sister Barb.
As a boy he enjoyed trips to the Jersey Shore and visits to his grandparents in Philadelphia. He was interested in taking things apart to see how they worked. His mathematical skills won him a regional math contest. He graduated from Pennsauken High School in 1966.
Steve attended Cornell University on a John McMullen Regional Scholarship and graduated in 1970 with a B.S. degree in Engineering. In college he met many friends and loved his life there. Since it was, after all, the 60’s, he attended many concerts and parties but still found time to study and graduate.
Steve moved to California and worked at Bechtel where on his first day at work he met his wife Eleanor. Before working at Cisco Systems he worked for Structural Software Development, One Point, Lorimar Studios, Wells Fargo Nikko and Digital Equipment Corporation (at Roche).
One Point was a start-up company where Steve was the entire IT department. He developed a program that enabled people to purchase almost everything online in various shopping malls. Family and friends were in disbelief, as this concept was entirely unfamiliar in 1987. After the company went belly-up, a similar idea is now popular and well known on the Internet.
Steve found his “second family” at Cisco Systems, where he worked for the last 12 years. As a technical leader of engineering, he was a pioneer and leader of Data Center Virtualization and Cloud Computing. His calm style and sense of humor made people want to be around him and everyone enjoyed working with him. He was a friend to colleagues and supporter of those in stress.
After a two year courtship, Steve and Eleanor married in 1977 in Serene Lakes CA. Steve loved being a husband. Steve and Eleanor shared many interests in common including hiking, skiing, and spending time with friends, and were rarely apart. During the last nine years, they participated in a spiritual program for couples and enjoyed attending conventions all over the U.S. and Canada. This provided an opportunity to travel and experience new places together.
In 1981 Steve experienced the joy of being a father when his first son John was born, and again in 1984 when his younger son Scott was born. Being a father was very gratifying for Steve; he was very interested and involved in his son’s lives. He spent many hours with his boys: acting as a timer for swim meets and Assistant Boy Scout leader; attending baseball games; sharing a love for special effects and sci fi movies; playing games and just hanging out.
Steve and Eleanor were both grateful for the tremendous support and help they received from John and Scott during Steve’s long battle with cancer.
Steve was also a big fan of car races, NASCAR and Indy cars, college basketball and professional football, all of which he learned to love at his father’s knee. He took great joy in reading, participating in his book club, walking his dogs, hiking, bowling, driving, watching TV, and traveling.
In his home garden he nourished his roses and took countless nature photos. He was an excellent photographer and had a good eye. Those who knew Steve will always remember him as a gentle soul with a wonderful and wry sense of humor and a deep enduring love for his family and friends.
There was a Celebration Of Life in Steve’s honor on Saturday, June 25, 2011 between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1035 Carol Lane, Lafayette, CA 94549. Services started at 4 pm and ended at 6 pm followed by fellowship and a reception in the fellowship hall.
Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to Cancer Support Community, 3276 McNutt Avenue, Walnut Creek, California 94597.
"You can shed tears that he is gone, or you can smile because he has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all he's left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see him, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember him only that he is gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what he'd want: smile, open your eyes love and go on." (Adapted from an original poem by David Harkins, British Poet and Painter b. 1958.)