Dr. Russell H. Ritter, born in Lee’s Summit on Jan 6, 1926, passed away on May 31, 2023, at the age of 97.
Russell graduated from LSHS in 1944. After serving in the US Army Air Corps, he received his doctorate degree from the Northern Illinois College of Optometry and returned to Lee’s Summit where he practiced optometry for 40 years. Throughout his career, Russell provided vision testing and eyeglasses to many needy children and received the Distinguished Service Award from the LS Lions Club for his service to the community. Russell was a longstanding member of the Optometric Society and served on several of the society’s governing boards.
Russell was elected to the LS Board of Education in 1962 and served as a member and later as President of the Board, for 18 years. His tenure on the board was marked by rapid growth within the R-7 school district and the construction of several new school buildings.
Russell served as Chair of the LS Airport Commission from 1975 to 1994. Russell, a private pilot, owned a Debonaire which he took on many cross-country trips and trips to remote Canadian lakes for fishing with friends. Russell took a very personal interest in seeing McComas Airport become an important part of the growth of LS, expanding and eventually becoming the LS Municipal Airport.
A trombone player since his youth, Russell found many opportunities to play throughout his life. He entered the Army just as WWII was ending and, there being little need for new pilots, Russell became part of a stage band, entertaining at various Army bases. After returning to LS, he joined the Unity Band then under the direction of Carl Frangkiser and later, Keith House. In 2003 Russell was a charter musician in the LS Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Russ Berlin, playing until the age of 85. Russell also enjoyed singing, and joined the LS United Methodist Church Men of Note, under the direction of Larry Keisker.
Russell was inducted into the LSHS Hall of Fame in 2001. He was a member of the LS Rotary Club and the Masonic Lodge, and he enjoyed his hobbies of woodworking, gardening, hunting, fishing, flying, and music.
Russell was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Glee Ritter. He is survived by his daughter Susan Newsam and her husband John; his son Don and his wife Mary; his grandchildren Carl, Cole, Leslie, Paige, and Kathryn; great grandchildren Maisie, Kayla, Kevin, Ayden; and many close family nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the staff of Villages of Jackson Creek Assisted Living for over 6 years of caretaking as well as Melissa and Advance Hospice for their wonderful care.
Services will be held at Langsford Funeral Home and officiated by a special family friend Dr. Steve House on June 10, 2023 with visitation at 9:00 a.m. and services at 10:00 a.m. followed by burial at the LS Cemetery. Memorial contributions to the Lee’s Summit Symphony Orchestra are encouraged.