True Merit Wherever Found: Norman Ritchie

Apr 10, 2012

Former ATO Executive Vice President Norman E. Ritchie, Syracuse ’50, died March 10 at Hope Hospice in Florida following a brief illness.

As ATO’s Executive Secretary, Ritchie thought a small but memorable portion of the ATO Creed was a good foundation for a new chapter award. The True Merit Award was established in 1969 with Ritchie’s characteristically systematic guidance.

Prior to being elevated to the National Fraternity’s staff stop spot January 2, 1966, Ritchie worked for ten years as Stew Daniels “strong right arm,” as assistant executive secretary. “In athletic parlance, Norm is what baseball players call ‘a take-charge guy,’ ” said Daniels. “He demonstrated his leadership by becoming one of the best Worthy Masters the Syracuse chapter ever had. He proved it by running the financial machinery for a base of 1,500 soldiers overseas while still in his early twenties.”

Fraternity lore is not complete without a mention of Hurricane Cleo at the 47th ATO Grand Bahama Congress in 1964. With most National Officers stranded 40 miles away, Ritchie obtained authority by telephone and organized an interim meeting that took case of routine Congress business so the abbreviated two-day relocated Congress in Miami Beach completed its agenda.

During his ten year tenure, the Fraternity opened 56 chapters, established True Merit and oversaw implementation of the Fraternity’s new non-discrimination policies. Despite the difficulties the Vietnam War era presented to college institutions of any stripe, Ritchie kept the Fraternity moving forward.

National President Walter Hughes said, “God only knows what Norm had to endure to keep the brotherhood afloat. On behalf of the National Fraternity, our deepest sympathies to Norm’s family.”

After fraternity life, Ritchie moved his family to Maine and opened a franchise of Baskin Robbins. In 1999 he retired and moved with his wife, Linnea to their vacation cabin in Waterboro, Maine. Shortly after, they found a second retirement home in Fort Myers, Florida. It was there that Ritchie began collecting sea shells, which he categorized and displayed in his garage as “Norm’s Museum of Mollusks and Marine Memorabilia.” For those who knew him, Ritchie’s collections were no surprise. His most famous collection was Time Magazine covers, autographed by the person who adorned that particular issue’s cover. His collection was an impressive 1100 signatures.

Memorial donations may be made to the Hope Hospice in Fort Myers or to the ATO Foundation.


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