Serving Western Wisconsin
Richard Ritger 08/27/2020

Richard Ritger 08/27/2020

Richard “Dick” Ritger, age 81 of River Falls, died Thursday, August 27, 2020 at his home. He was born on November 8, 1938 to Dave and Evelyn Ritger in Hartford, WI. His childhood was spent living in the family apartment above a 10-lane bowling establishment owned by his parents, and he took full advantage of those lanes to develop exceptional bowling skills. He graduated from Lacrosse University in 1960 with a degree in PhyEd and Recreation and then worked as Recreation Director for the city of Hartford. After being awarded the Wisconsin Bowler of the Year in 1962, 1963, and 1965, Dick decided to test his bowling skills on the Professional Tour. Professional bowling was a very successful venture for him, and he captured 20 PBA titles in his 15 years on Tour, appearing often on TVs Wide World of Sports. Dick was a gentleman on and off the lanes and was twice awarded the PBAs Sportsmanship Award. He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1978, the ABC Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008 and was named one of the top 20 bowlers of the century in 2000. In his bowling career, Dick found that he had the skills to teach others, and he put his college degree to work by formulating the “Dick Ritger Bowling Camps” which were headquartered in Ithaca, NY for many years. His teaching programs were world renowned and he taught in 38 countries across five continents. Dick estimates that he taught 25,000 bowlers how to improve their bowling skills. He developed a three-part video/DVD series called “The Feelings of Bowling” that was distributed worldwide. He also helped to develop a “Wounded Warrior” program to help disabled veterans by refining and modifying his skill drills so that disabled veterans could better enjoy the sport.
Dick moved to River Falls, WI with his wife, Judy and their four children in 1975. He continued traveling the world while teaching bowling skills in Australia, Singapore, the Middle East, the Far East, and Europe. After suffering multiple strokes in 2014 he was unable to continue his travels but offered help to many local people seeking to better their bowling skills. He was always generous with his time and willing to help anyone who asked. He was truly a remarkable man and will be missed by so many, especially his devoted family members. Dick is survived by his wife of 60 years, Judy; three children, Scott (Amy), Shari (Joe) Hammer, and Cyndi; 13 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; brothers, Dave (Shirley) and John (Laura); daughter-in-law, Kathy; niece, Jenny (John) Borzick; and niece-in-law, Penny. He is preceded in death by his son, Dan; brother, Bob (Judy); and nephew, Jeff. Due to Covid-19, no funeral mass will be held. A Private Family Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was held Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 2:00PM at St. Bridget Catholic Church in River Falls. In honor of Dick’s life, the family requests that any memorial gifts be given to St. Bridget’s Catholic Church or the River Falls Food Pantry. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


  • Bridget Bilello Posted August 28, 2020 1:03 pm

    I’m not sure how to put into words how grateful I am for Dick Ritger. What started out as a trip to summer camp forever changed the course of my life. I learned the fundamentals of bowling from him and his amazing staff at camp, which I still use today. I grew in my love for the sport of bowling and made connections to people who would become life long friends. I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of a man whose poise, thoughtful demeanor and work ethic shaped the lives of everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him. To say that he had my utmost respect would be an understatement. And yes, because of him, I met the love of my life while attending camp in 1991. Without him, I wouldn’t have the amazing husband and two children that are the center of my world. So, thank you, Mr. Ritger for changing the course of my life in the most unexpected and amazing ways both on and off the lanes. Sending prayers for Judy and your family and the bowling family that you created.

  • Lori Leitch Posted August 28, 2020 1:23 pm

    Judy and family, I’m so sorry for your loss. Dick was truly a generous, humble, and kind gentleman. I’m happy I had the opportunity to be taught by him and to hear his stories. His love and pride in all of you was clearly evident in the memories he shared. Judy, I’m not sure if you remember the last time Kristi and I came to visit (probably a year ago now), and we talked about passing on from this life. We had no doubt that you two wouldn’t be stopped and questioned by St. Peter at the gates of Heaven. I’m sure Dick sailed right in.

  • Cathy Dyess Nunnally Posted August 28, 2020 3:50 pm

    Dear Judy and Family,
    I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of Dick. He was an amazing person of whom gave me a chance to work along side of him and many other talented instructors. He chose me to be the first female coach on his staff and I in turn learned so very much from him and met so many wonderful people because of him!! I am truly grateful that he took a chance on me. Words can not express the sorrow in my heart at hearing the news of his passing and please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers and I send my strength to all of you in this very difficult time.
    I can not thank you enough for sharing him with us every summer in Ithaca and know that you have a whole world of people who are here for you all!!
    With all my love and graditude.

  • Kevin Russeth Posted August 28, 2020 5:40 pm

    A guy couldn’t have wished for a better Father-In-Law or Grandpa for our children.
    Big hug and peace to you Dick. Judy, wishing you strength and comfort from
    your great kids and grand kids.

  • Maureen Mitchell Posted August 28, 2020 6:14 pm

    My thoughts and blessings to the Ritger family.
    I bowled many years at Dave’s lanes with Evie and Dave. Dick is the one that helped define any skills I had for bowling and raised m y average.
    Jeff. Was. My. Godson.
    Judy I send prayers and blessings. Maureen (Shinners) Mitchell🙏💚

  • Mike Pensinger Posted August 28, 2020 7:05 pm

    Judy and family. I amSorry for your loss. I was fortunate to have been taught some bowling skills by Dick. His knowledge of the game impressed me so much and he was a very good instructor. He really helped me improve my game

  • Olive Mulhollam Posted August 28, 2020 11:33 pm

    Duck was a great and generous man. I’m sure he’s with his God in heaven.

  • harry fitch Posted August 29, 2020 1:43 pm

    To Dick’s family: I got to know Dick quite well when I was one of the PBA’s tour press liaisons back in the mid 1970s. Such a warm and personable man.
    One thing about him stands out in particular. As you may know, many of the tour pros would arrive at that week’s site the day before the official practice and pro-ams started the tournament. They would get in a few games that day. Sometimes I would join some of them for three games. Dick was one of those I would join somewhat regularly. Although I was a lefty, the scourge of righties on the tour, Dick realized that my bowling talents were limited and that I would never be a threat to him on tour. Thus, he gave me pointers to help improve my game. I can say sincerely they helped. After all, I bowled at most three games a week on a different set of lanes every time. Yet, I maintained a decent average and I know Dick’s tips helped me do that.
    My memories of Dick will remain fond ones. May your many memories help sustain you.

  • Judy Laatsch Stanke Posted August 29, 2020 3:48 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can remember sitting and watching Dick practice at Dave’s Lanes and found it awesome that he would have the pin setters set up a 7-10 and he would knock it down time and time again.

  • John Limbach Posted August 29, 2020 5:16 pm

    Hi to the Dick Ritger family from cousin John.

    Of all the wonderful traits that Dick had I remember mostly how caring, compassionate and considerate he was, not unlike his grandfather August Ritger of Allenton WI.

    Rest in Peace cousin Dick.

  • Michael Bauer Posted August 29, 2020 8:14 pm

    Will always remember his visit to his Oregon cousins while on the pba tour. He was an inspiration to hius. Our prayers are with the family.

  • Wendy (Wittenberger) Becker Posted August 29, 2020 10:17 pm

    So sad to hear. When I was little, he came to an assembly at Lincoln School to talk and teach us how to bowl. He taught me how! I still have pics. Never forgot my highest score….258! Had strikes and spares through the WHOLE game! 🎳 He was a good guy. Glad to have known him.

  • Sandy Skrien Posted August 30, 2020 12:48 am

    Judith, so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you during your time of celebration of life and of grief. Hugs from a Chip Carving student.

  • Pierce Murray Posted August 30, 2020 8:12 am

    A fantastic ambassador for bowling and a great human being. Helped establish coaches training programs in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. His methods are still being used to this day.
    Rest in peace my friend

  • Ruth Petro Posted August 30, 2020 2:58 pm

    Dear Judy and Family, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll keep you all in my prayers. God bless.

  • Paul Lane Posted August 30, 2020 4:05 pm

    I first met Dick Ritger, and his lovely wife Judy, in the arrivals hall of a European Airport in the early 1970’s.. This was the first leg of an 8-country exhibition and clinic tour and, as the Marketing Manager for AMF’s International Division, I acted as the tour leader.
    After checking into a hotel and settling in for dinner in the hotel restaurant, we began getting to know each other. When we finally turned in for the night I realized something special had happened. We had moved on from being colleagues with the same company, to friends in every true sense of the word.
    To have Dick Ritger as a friend was truly special. It was unquestioned, unwavering, and continued for almost fifty years. We never lost contact and the bond just grew stronger.
    Dick, Rest in Peace, my friend. And my love extends to your extended family.

  • Faye Perkins & Joe McIntosh Posted August 30, 2020 11:34 pm

    We couldn’t have asked for better neighbors than Judy and Dick. As a coach myself, it was fun talking to Dick and listening to his stories. As witnessed in the comments above, he truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of bowling students and colleagues, worldwide and also in the community of River Falls. Peace to Just and the entire Ritger family.

  • Dave Williams Posted August 31, 2020 1:42 am

    I first met Dick in London, where we carved out a plan for an AMF Learn to Bowl program, in Paul Lane’s apartment. We talked for hours about bowling and different hand positions, while releasing bowling balls into Paul’s sofa. Years later I was completing a story for BCM about our bowling clinics and was saddened to hear that Dick had fallen in the shower. I mentioned to Dick’s wife Judy about releasing the bowling balls into the couch and she laughed, saying that Dick used to do that same practice drill with their kids.
    Condolences to family and friends from all of us in the bowling industry.

  • Geraldo Paluzzi Posted September 14, 2020 1:24 pm

    A Legend has passed, his impact on the sport of bowling and industry has been profound, most importantly the friendships that he has garnered all over the world.

  • Lance Mehciz Posted October 17, 2020 11:41 pm

    Sorry to hear this. I enjoyed watching Dick on Wide World of Sports PBA tour. I grew up in Hartford. I never met Dick but I did bowl at Dave’s Lanes for school. He may have thought me a few things. To many years ago to remember.

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