Rodger Dean Ritchie, age 64, of rural Broken Bow, died Nov. 3, 2013, at his home after a courageous battle with cancer.
He was born Aug. 14, 1949, at the family home west of Broken Bow to Charles J. "Doc" and Wanda L. (Cool) Ritchie. He and his brothers and sister grew up in the Union Valley Community. Rodger attended the Ryno country school through the 8th grade and was graduated from the Merna High School in 1968.
June 2, 1968, Rodger was united in marriage to his best friend and soul-mate, Bonita Rae Burnett at Broken Bow. To this union three children were born: Jason Dean, Michael Dean, and Jennifer Jean.
Rodger served his country by joining the National Guards in March 1970 and served through November 1975.
He and his wife lived and worked around Broken Bow until they moved to their current location north of town, where they were engaged in farming and ranching. Over the years a Custom Chopping operation developed with friend and neighbor Rod Schweitzer, and then later with his son Mike.
Through the years he greatly encouraged and influenced his children through his own integrity. His support of them and their activities carried over to giving the same to his grandsons. He had great hopes of seeing each of them realize their dreams.
Rodger was a great person. He worked hard, not only for himself and his family, but for other people who counted on his good judgment and agricultural knowledge. His love of the land made him a good conservationist.
He loved racing mini sprints, and was instrumental in starting the yearly mini sprint and motorcycle races at the local county fair. He loved the racing community and the people that were involved with the sport. He and his son would make a yearly trip to Nationals in Oklahoma where they would meet up with racing buddies and make racing memories.
Rodger was a member of the United Methodist Church, and acknowledged his religious belief. Through that belief he came to "trust his journey" forward.
His sense of humor was a constant until the day of his death; a Blessing and inspiration to us all.
Rodger is survived by his wife, Bonita, of Broken Bow; son, Michael and friend Kay Neal of Merna; daughter, Jennifer Gibbons and husband J.J. of Broken Bow; four grandchildren: Austin, Trayvin, Lane, and Dakota Russell, plus a new un-born baby Gibbons grandchild whom he was so looking forward to seeing and getting to know. He is also survived by one sister, Nancy Newman (Kenny) of Sutherland; brothers: Glenn Ritchie and friend Barb Bacon, of Berwyn; Gary Ritchie of Houston, Texas; and Marvin Ritchie and wife Debbie of Arnold; sisters-in-law Patsy Burnett, Connie (Dave) Stunkel and Sandra (Joe) Shea, all of Broken Bow; a host of nieces, nephews, and many other relatives and friends from all over the country.
Rodger was preceded in death by a son, Jason D.; his father, Charles (Doc) Ritchie; his in-laws, Melvin and Thelma Burnett; and two brothers-in-law, Marvin and Victor Burnett.
Funeral services were at the United Methodist Church in Broken Bow Thursday, Nov. 7, with the Rev. Roger Sloan of the Lillian Church of Christ and the Rev. Todd Karges of the United Methodist Church officiating. Burial was in the Broken Bow Cemetery with Govier Brothers Mortuary in charge of the arrangements. Memorials will be determined at a later date.
Rodger will be greatly missed by his family and his many friends.
Published in Custer County Chief, Nov. 7, 2013