J. Eugene Ringsdorf Sr., 91, head of soccer federation

November 01, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

J. Eugene Ringsdorf Sr., a former president of the United States Soccer Federation who was inducted into its hall of fame, died of heart failure Thursday at Oak Crest Village retirement community in Parkville. He was 91.

Mr. Ringsdorf was born in Baltimore and raised near Collington and North avenues. He attended night school at Polytechnic Institute and earned his high school diploma. He also took additional business courses at City College.

In 1929, he began working the Rowan Comptroller Co. and eventually became the company's purchasing agent. He retired in 1977.

He worked for several years as a buyer in the city's purchasing department and also part time for Baltimore Car and Rental Co. He was 80 when he retired in 1992.

His lifelong love was soccer, which he began playing as a child. He was 12 when he tried out for his first neighborhood team--the Collington Soccer Club--and was promptly cut.

"I just wasn't good enough. I tried out for the Lake Soccer Club and made that one," he told The Evening Sun in 1979 at the time of his entry into the USSF Hall of Fame.

Mr. Ringsdorf played on many teams, including the Corinthians where he was a player-coach before retiring from the field in 1939.

However, Mr. Ringsdorf remained active for more than 55 years in the administrative side of the sport. Throughout his long career, he held every important position in Maryland State soccer.

In the early 1950s, when he was the Maryland representative to the USSF, Mr. Ringsdorf introduced a plan that expanded the sport to high schools across the nation.

"East Coast schools had soccer. The Midwest and Far West didn't. That legislation also provided that the same rules apply throughout the country so that teams, no matter where they traveled, were playing under the same standards. It gave the game consistency and uniformity," Mr. Ringsdorf said in The Evening Sun interview.

Mr. Ringsdorf's plan made it possible for "countless thousands of girls and boys throughout the country to learn and play organized soccer," the newspaper observed.

In 1961, he was elected president of the USSF and during his tenure with the organization traveled abroad on its behalf.

He was also a member of the Maryland Oldtimer's Hall of Fame.

Mr. Ringsdorf was married for 50 years to the former Dorothy Harp, a homemaker, who died in 1986. Before moving to Oak Crest Village in 1995, he had lived for 55 years in the 2700 block of Pelham Ave.

He was a longtime communicant of the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Little Flower, where he was a Eucharistic minister and parish council. He was also a past president of the St. Vincent DePaul Society and the Archdiocesan Holy Name Union. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and was awarded the Archdiocesan Circle Medallion Award in 1982.

One of the highlights of his life was receiving communion from Pope John Paul II at Camden Yards during the pontiff's 1995 visit to Baltimore, family members said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at the Shrine of the Little Flower, Brendan and Kentucky avenues in Baltimore.

Mr. Ringsdorf is survived by a son, J. Eugene Ringsdorf Jr. of Ocean Pines; four daughters, D. Iris Turner of Baltimore, E. Joyce Evans of Middle River, Mary Lou Vitrano of Kent Island and Phyllis C. Scott of Laurel; 17 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

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