George R. Ritz
Published 9:48 pm Friday, July 7, 2023
George Robert Ritz, age 83, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer on July 4, 2023. George was born on 02/28/1940 in West Hazleton, PA to Michael and Anna Ritz. George and his wife Diana made their way through several states but made their way to Geneva, MN to raise their three older children and in 1982 moved to Eagle River, Alaska with their two younger children to work and live the next 41 years.
George and Diana met in the United States Air Force and after 62 days of courting, they were married. The military chaplain even tried to talk them out of getting married because he felt it was just too soon and would never work. Needless to say, they just celebrated 63 years of marriage this past November.
While living in Minnesota George owned and operated Ritz Plumbing and Heating in Clark’s Grove and then after moving his family to Geneva, he opened a storefront in town. Following their move to Alaska he became employed with the Anchorage School District as a plumber until his retirement in 2002.
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George was a very unique individual and left his mark everywhere he went. He made daily visits to Tips Bar in Alaska to play his rippies and harass the staff and patrons. He enjoyed smoking and canning salmon and would make deliveries of his wife’s baked goods all over Eagle River. In fact, he was awarded “employee of the month” at one of the local stores, even though he didn’t work there. George made several annual trips to Las Vegas and could be found on his favorite Poker machine throughout the day and night.
One of his greatest accomplishments was starting a bone marrow donor program in Alaska. He was the driving force behind an effort to test and register potential bone marrow donors in Eagle River after learning a local resident had leukemia and was in need of a donor. After becoming more involved, he expanded his goals to include the entire State of Alaska. As a direct result of his efforts, Alaska leads the nation in percentage of the state population who have registered for the donor list. He was one of 20 recipients in 1994 to receive the First Lady’s Volunteer Award.
George is survived by his wife, Diana (Uecker) Ritz, his 5 children, Christopher Ritz, Jannell (Brad) Tufte, Tracy (Guy) Cromwell, Roxanne (Jim) Simmons and Chad (Lera) Ritz. He proudly shared that because of his marriage to Diana, 5 children, 17 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren were born to his family. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews. Georges parents, along with his 7 siblings, predeceased him.
At his request, no visitation or service will be held at this time.
Memorials can be given to Eagle River Lions Club in Eagle River, Alaska or Geneva Cancer Run, Geneva, MN.