Joseph A. Ritz Sr., Teamsters official, veteran

December 08, 2008|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN

Joseph A. Ritz Sr., a retired Teamsters official and World War II veteran, died Tuesday of complications from a stroke at Franklin Square Hospital Center. He was 86.

Mr. Ritz was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he graduated from Hanover High School in 1940.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a ground crew chief with the 412th Thunderbolt Fighter Squadron, 375th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force in England and later in Europe.

Mr. Ritz was a lifetime member of the Owings Mills Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and helped organize and attend reunions of the 412th Fighter Squadron.

"They landed at Normandy 16 days after the initial invasion," said a son, Joseph A. Ritz Jr. of Emmitsburg.

"And like a lot of those who served in World War II, he didn't talk about it very much. A few years ago, he returned to Omaha Beach for a visit, and for the first time, he was able to grieve for the loss of his flight buddies," he said.

Discharged after the war with the rank of staff sergeant, Mr. Ritz returned to Baltimore, where during the 1950s he owned and operated two Ritz Mobil filling stations, one next to Edmondson Village Shopping Center and the other in Catonsville.

He worked during the 1960s at the old Montgomery Ward facility on Washington Boulevard as an auto mechanic and shop foreman.

Mr. Ritz later became secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 590 and held those positions until retiring in the late 1970s.

His wife of many years, the former Irene A. Herbert, died in 1985.

Mr. Ritz was a parishioner of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Glyndon, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Friday.

Also surviving are three other sons, Fred Ritz of Spring Grove, Pa., Tom Ritz of Owings Mills and Herb Ritz of Manchester; two brothers, Charlie Ritz of Baltimore and Ernie Ritz of Trenton; a sister, Rita Sahlit of Wilmington, Del.; nine grandchildren; and his longtime companion, Olive Sauter of Baltimore.

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