Cover photo for Dr. J. Ray Ritzman's Obituary

Dr. J. Ray Ritzman

November 6, 1941 — January 11, 2024

Dr. J. Ray Ritzman

Dr. J. Ray Ritzman passed away January 11, 2024, surrounded by family, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease with dementia.  He was a reliably dry wisecracker, a source of the most outrageous and uproarious stories, and a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Ray was born in Murray, Utah, to Herbert and Norma Ritzman.  Growing up in Holladay, he graduated from Olympus High School in 1960.  

He paused his schooling to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Berlin, Germany.  The Berlin Wall was constructed while he was there, and he once smuggled a duck into East Berlin. He continued to faithfully serve in the church throughout his life.

Education was always important to Ray. He earned a bachelor’s degree in German Literature and an M.D. from the University of Utah.  He met Marilyn Funk in the school library; she was hesitant at first, but his rakish good looks, quick wit, and blind perseverance won her over, and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on June 14, 1965.  They had seven children who grew up thinking everyone’s dad could fix anything.

As an officer in the Army, he completed his internship and residency at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  After two additional years at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he left the Army with the rank of Major and moved with his family to West Des Moines, Iowa, where he practiced anesthesia at Des Moines Mercy Hospital and was later voted Medical Staff President. After retiring, he and Marilyn moved to Holladay, Utah; he then spent five years working summers as Medical Director at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Ray spent much of his life working with Boy Scouts. High adventures were his great love: he helped scouts build fiberglass kayaks, took them on a Boundary Waters trip, and constructed period-accurate hand carts (held together with wooden pegs and rawhide) for a cross-state trek.  Those hand carts are now displayed in Iowa museums.  A believer in the scout motto, “Be prepared”, he built his own coffin decades ago and stood it as a bookshelf in his den. “Congratulations!” reads the note with instructions we found taped to the back this week. “You get to bury my sorry bones.” The note ends, “P.S. If you don’t get it right I will haunt you.  Boo!”

His other hobbies included hiking (he once hiked six miles down the Grand Teton with a broken leg because he didn’t think that insurance would cover a helicopter rescue), camping (he could cook pizza on a backpacking stove), woodworking (he built much of the furniture in his home, as well as many other pieces, still treasured in his children’s homes), piano playing (he took lessons as an adult), square dancing (he was president of Electric Squares 2017-2018), and writing hilarious Christmas letters that entertained and delighted.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Heidi Ritzman Read.  He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his children Kimberly Read (Allen), Katie Bangerter (Brent), John Ritzman (Catherine), Heather (Alan), Jessica Hanson (David), and Sara Sullivan (Steven); his sister Nancy Weidner (Ray) and brothers Brent Ritzman (Kim) and Lee Ritzman (Kathleen); and his 32 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 20, at the Holladay 26th ward building at 4601 South Chapel Drive (2565 East), Holladay UT.  Viewing from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM before the funeral.

The service will be livestreamed on the Goff Mortuary Facebook Page at the following link: 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Funeral-Service---Cemetery/Goff-Mortuary-116988261695382/ 
(The livestream video will appear when the service starts.)

J. Ray Ritzman - Funeral Recording.mp3

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Saturday, January 20, 2024

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Saturday, January 20, 2024

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