Posts filed under ‘men of substance’

March 3rd- feeling the energy- Chris Ritchey

Hard signature

The domain in the garden past the pond


is a place I don’t frequent- it was and is your father’s “area’ and like his basement not a place I care to go or for which to take responsibility. The Weeping Willow hid a lot of his sins- but that too had to go last spring.


I still kept to my end of the garden and closed my eyes to the time it was taking to get the garden back into some sort of order. The truth be told I no longer had the “energy to fight the blight” that is the male idea of “need.

But one day , late last summer , I could stand it no longer and I had to do “something’ to tidy up. I moved the wrought iron trellis which had been leaning up against the garden wall. I positioned the trellis by the side of the garage over the curve in the pathway by the boat. Hopefully this would hide the “boat” from my view, a job the Willow did so well. I took the grape vines that were in abundance and tied them up on to the trellis. Then, as I precariously stood upon the step-ladder, I turned toward the garage to tie in the next side of the trellis. My eyes became fixed , not really taking in what I was seeing – they saw where you had left your name in paint on the garage wall.

Unexpected, as it was, the effect was instantaneous I felt my knees buckle , my breath catch, and those eyes that have cried so many days and nights filled once more with tears. I was transported back from the present once again, in the memory of my mind, to another place and time where once again we walked, talked, hoped and waited in vain for a cure ……… work of art ever touched me so profoundly as that signature .

Oh! the explanation is simple enough you were , that spring , helping your father to paint the side of the garage – but everything went wrong – cancer and chemo put paid to painting but not before you had taken a brush and used your energy to write your name in the old paintwork.

Your father told me that he couldn’t bring himself to paint over your name so there it has stayed these many , many months, unbeknownst to me, as I never venture past the pond if I can help it. .

I can still see the energy you used in the writing of your name , the pressure of the brush to wood, the adding of paint to the brush as you proclaimed you were here at that time” .

Not being an artist or an art critic, I was always a little perplexed when I would hear ” the energy of the brushwork”- but here it was – not a Van Gogh or even a Boccioni
or Julia Watkins

Chris Ritchey

Chris Ritchey

Just a young man on a warm spring day leaving his mark on the garage before he painted over it -something that never happened. Yet, seeing your name, left there these many months brought home once more how I much I still love you , a love that grows and doesn’t diminish , miss you, your laughter and your energy

My heart is in pieces and I miss you more than life itself………. and yes it is “Hard” harder than I ever thought possible to bear.

Artwork Chris Ritchey

Artwork Chris Ritchey

March 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm 3 comments

Feb 3rd- living after we die- Chris Ritchey


When your sister, dad, Jim , Gavin and I gathered to honour the memory of you that cold December day the 17th in the place you loved, music filled the forest, the voice and talent of Susan Boyle expressed the thoughts I could not speak:

There was not a sound in that cathedral of trees but Susan’s pure voice.

Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away

I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie
I have my freedom but I don’t have much time
Faith has been broken, tears have been cried
Let’s do some living after we die

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

Wild horses we will ride them someday
Wild horses, wild horses

Uncle Chris

Chris you still live, you are still contributing to this life and family – that little baby boy Gavin who was just 9 months old , in his little red snow suit cuddled in your dad’s arms on that cold day could not have been expected to remember you – BUT he knows you!

Braedyn, who was not even born until many months after your death- wouldn’t be expected to know you . But he does, your sister has made you part of their every day – real and full of life and mischief to them , they recognize you in so many ways.
gav and bro

They know each piece of art work , they know you,they trust in you and love you. You are as real to them as their cousin Tony who lives far away….
Your art has graced the pages of periodicals, the web and continues to be shown .

Your humour reaches out through the “vale” , love keeps on growing and living .You won’t be forgotten, a slab of granite in a place not of “you”- because thanks to Nikki, and two little boys you are here- you are still part of this family and life.

I love you and my love for you continues and grows each day … you continue to be part of us and our lives even more so than some who still live in the “literal” sense of the word. You continue as long as love continues………….

February 3, 2014 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

The Memorial Project – Why ? Chris Ritchey Pt 2


A few days ago, on December 3rd, I published another “remembering” of my son Chris.
I have, as long- time readers know, used the 3rd of every month to write about Chris, his life, the story of our journey, our pain and yes, anger .

I mentioned in the December 3rd post how I had been contacted to be part of a project on how grieving parent memorialize their children. I am now, since the project has been presented, going to share some of the interview questions put to me and the answers as to ‘WHY “THIS WAY” TO MEMORIALIZE’?

The project asked for a photo of how we, as parents “memorialized ” our son or daughter. I submitted a collage I put together of Chris and some of his work that has special meaning to me.
chrisart collage
Question :

Please describe the photograph and any special meaning the objects in it may have (such as a headstone inscription, meaning of items placed in a space dedicated to a child, or anything else you feel is important).

The photograph is of my son and some of his art work. I have made a collage of a few that have meanings for him and me.

For example, the baseball hat with the flag and the word freedom was the slide that appeared behind him as he crossed the stage at his graduation from Cleveland Institute of Art. Each graduate was required to put together a slide which told who they were- this was who Chris decided he was.

The “Hands” artwork in the background was homework, sketches of different hands – my son was throwing it out after his first year and I loved it so much I wanted to frame it – it didn’t fit in the frame so he folded the one edge. After he died I had it professionally framed they informed me they could take out the crease but, he had put in the fold and I wanted it left. It was significant to leave it for me.

photo Angela  by  Chris Ritchey

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

The reason for the collage of his artwork[ as our memorial] is due to the fact his bride[ Angela (Lombardi) Ritchey] took from us his cremains and buried them without our knowledge or input.
Therefore we haven’t a place or memorial in the traditional sense.

I have had a blog for many years which covers many, many subjects. After Chris’s death and the terrible cruelty that followed including the statement[ a letter sent 4 months after Chris death by Angela Ritchey DO ] “I didn’t know my son”

I then started writing about what we were going through and going on a journey “In search of my son”
Part 19 of the series and links to the other posts are part of our journey.

using his work to illustrate my thoughts.
I, then wrote to “him”[Chris} my thoughts on the 3rd of every month for a year, and have continued to do so for the past 3 years and 10 months [the time when I was contacted for the project] although my blog covers other subjects, I continue to use his art work to illustrate my thoughts and reporting on various subjects

a self-portrait Chris Ritchey

a self-portrait Chris Ritchey


When did you first begin memorializing/remembering your child in this way?

The day I read his obituary in the local paper written by his “in-laws” – my son was so much more than the paltry self-serving piece written in the paper.
I could not let those words be the last words written about my son.
So I used my blog (which is well read) not only for him but it has become cathartic for me.

It doesn’t matter if thousands read about his life or just one – his story is there and in some sense his art still speaks for him.

to be continued……………

NOTE: all my posts, the reactions to what happened to this family is backed up with written documentation by the parties involved as well as witnesses to the events of what I consider to be despicable, cruel and selfish behaviours by ” those that controlled” – they are in fact the “enablers’ of this memorial for without the decisions made by The Lombardis, Vykas , Gotts, Zaworski and Gonzales

If things had been handled by them -with humanity, kindness, respect and thought for Chris’s family at the lowest point in any parents life instead of putting us in a realm where we “didn’t exist” – this aspect of my blog would not exist.……..

They have themselves to thank their behaviours are here!

December 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm 2 comments

December 3rd- Memorial- Chris Ritchey

chrisart collage

Strength to continue…… No! the mothers, who mourn their child, don’t really continue or for that matter to “move on”- they pull and drag themselves through each day and into the next- fragmented and yet never becoming “whole” again. We have crutches , we have game faces, we have tricks to stay the course of continuing. The grief can numb you and yet rip you to pieces in an instant. The cohesiveness of you, my son, is no longer there the hold my heart and soul together.

I dread these days of memory:

and yet I relive those last days of your life over and over and over again daily. So why the dread of facing another December 3rd? December 3rd is just another day where I am holding my breath , trying to hold back the rush of tears, fighting to stay upright and the longing for this to be a nightmare from which I will wake.

The very nature of its coming- December 3rd brings with it such an intensity of emotions that I know will cause me to flood my pillow with tears and tear at the fabric of stillness that is night with my sobbing. The dull chronic pain I live with everyday becomes a shrieking, stabbing coldness of spirit permeating every thought, every fiber of my being. I am lost to comfort.

Recently, I was asked to participate in a “grief project” for an Arizona university. The project, as I understand it, will be presented this week. Basically the gist was how grieving parents memorialize their “lost” children .

The last question asked as I filled out the projects questions is as follows:
Please use the space below to share any other important information about your child………


Our lives changed so much the day my son died. Every moment from the time of diagnosis to his death is as fresh in our minds as if it were yesterday. There is a sort of parallel world we walk in the present – we are physically here but at the same time elsewhere in a world of horror and hope- the obscenity that is cancer will do that to you.

Watching your son lose his grip on life day after day week after week, the tests and finally helplessly watching him slip away hooked up to machines being unable to fulfill the promises parents make.

The guilt of surviving, the questioning of WHY, the deals you did in your head and out loud to a “being or entity” that ignored – realizing you are alone – for all the platitudes foisted upon you ” the God’s plan” the better place .. The people who do not have the words to comfort- how could they – trot out inane phrases – you know they mean well but they just add to the anger, because there is anger .

You don’t move on, at least we don’t, we continue , we love our daughter, son in law and grandchildren – they give us laughter and strength but always lingering on the peripheral of life is the “missing of memories that should have been” . There will never be total happiness in our lives – there can’t be. Maybe it would have been easier with the crutch of an organized religion to support one- I don’t know- it is Chris that comforts – his smile – his
his humor his thoughts as they are expressed in the works he left with us…………

Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away

I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie
I have my freedom but I don’t have much time
Faith has been broken, tears have been cried
Let’s do some living “after” we die

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

Wild horses we will ride them someday
Wild horses, wild horses

December 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm 7 comments

Why Lorain- the Lilac City- the paper trail 3

Photo Settlers' Watch  Lilac - Mark Teleha

Photo Settlers’ Watch Lilac – Mark Teleha

Part One

Part Two

As mentioned in Part two, in 1924 this community was hit with a devastating tornado in a matter of minutes the town and business district went from this
Briadway early
to this

Amazingly, ( considering what it takes in this day and age to get anything done) two years later the business district was back and as mentioned in part two so was the surrounding neighborhood.

Building the Broadway  Building 1926- Dennis Lamont

Building the Broadway Building 1926- Dennis Lamont

Yes! that would be the pride of Broadway ( The Broadway Building) being built- I wonder what they would say to its worth today- a man-made tornado of destruction that is known as “NEGLECT”

Marks lilacs
Then by the 30′s when Lilacs were on everyone’s lips it was Lorain back in business1934

The citizens had their say:
AUG 26 1930 Part1

AUG 26 1930 Part2root

The ladies mentioned in the above cutting as to their “lilacs” and their homes today
Marks lilacs

103 Arkansas

Marks lilacs
pen_ink root

Miss Harriet Root- 3535 E. Erie Avenue
More on the Root Story here

photo Dan Brady

photo Dan Brady

Marks lilacs

collarg 550
Then there was WINTER ROSE- OF 550- 6TH Street
The Mayor , at the time, Paul Goldthorpe was behind the “Lilacs”

Aug 28 1930 mayor
TO BE CONTINUED…………Marks lilacs

November 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm 3 comments

Why Lorain- the Lilac City- the “paper” trail

Captain's Walk Artist Fran Cellozzi

Captain’s Walk
Artist Fran Cellozzi

It was a pleasant summer evening on Rich Robbin’s
front porch sipping wine with other neighbors over 2 decades ago, there in lies the tale of the start of Charleston Village Society Inc - some woozy neighbors sampling the grape . We had a lot to learn those first months about the “history of Lorain” – Charleston Village. Two thirds of the group were transplants from other far away communities- a bit like the original settlers when you think of it!

However, we did hear from someone- I can’t remember whom ( wine has that effect) the Lilac was the flower of the city and there were festivals, songs and queens. We heard the stories of how after a devastating tornado Lorraine , France sent over Lilac bushes to beautify this devastated city – sounded reasonable and so we carried on perpetuating the “myth”.

Photo  Lorain 365 Blog

Photo Lorain 365 Blog

In the past few weeks Charleston Village Society Inc. Outreach and Promotions committee took on the task of decorating one of the trees for the 2nd Annual International Trees and Model Train Display at Black River Landing as part of the Light Up Lorain Festivities .


We chose to decorate the tree with Lilacs and history. As we were decorating the tree, other participants asked Why Lilacs? and we realized we really didn’t know the whole story of how the Lilacs of Lorain came and “went”.

Thanks to Dan Brady of who was absolutely brilliant in his detective work with so much documentation from 1930 through 1939 we have at last separated myth from fact.

The story of the Lilacs of Lorain is one of coincidence , civic pride, leadership and the fact, no matter the decade, we tend to reinvent the wheel. Part Two will put paid to the myth of Lorain/ Lorraine but let us just go back in time to a time of devastation by Mother Nature.

Courtesy  Dan Brady/Dennis Lamont

Courtesy Dan Brady/Dennis Lamont


This community had very little left to her after that dark day in 1924. You have to hand it to those citizens at the time, who in just a few short years, managed to bring back a community. They obviously took it upon themselves to get stuck in with apparently no federal help to rebuild.

Deeping Gate artist Fran Cellozzi

Deeping Gate artist Fran Cellozzi

My own house sits on a lot that had the previous structure destroyed and yet just TWO years later ( 1926) this was the result- a Mock English Tudor and a Mock Cape Cod were built over the cleared rubble of destruction – a mother and daughter occupied the now “split lot”.
Antiquity  Inn - Artist Kat Skye

Antiquity Inn – Artist Kat Skye

Is it any wonder after the effort of rebuilding a city from the muck and mire there was just 6 years after the tornado a call for beautification….. to be continued

November 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm 7 comments


The face of a founder TR Bowen - when one was proud to claim ownership of their Broadway Building( 430 Broadway)- no hidden LLC here !
photo Lisa Miller Lorain 365

As with everything else as soon as I start to write a post on one aspect of Lorain and I start- only to be sent off of the original concept on another journey of discovery.

I am putting together a booklet for Charleston Village Society’s – promotions and outreach committee, they are basically CVSI’s speakers bureau. Since we have two upcoming events/programs and in the need of updated handouts, I have been immersed in the research for some photos both in our files and on the web. I came across more information on my favorite Lorain Hero and Captain- Captain Wilford . I truly believe his story is the stuff books and films are made of-.

wilford house
His home, which should be embraced by Lorain’s city and county governments , historical societies , pointed to with pride is, as readers of
Who is Who in the 052.
are already aware a rental now with an RSO – but I digress

One photo of Broadway ( back in the day) on the web took me to
broadway Buusiness 1885 D Brady

Lorain Street Railway Blog. and there I stayed for the next couple of hours, leaving my own job of work to do on this blog and my coffee to get cold.
You really must pay this site a visit if you haven’t already.
There was my Captain!!!!!- along with Frank Vernam and George Clark listed as Founders of the Lorain Street Railway
Source Drew Penfield

The opportunity for improved transportation in Lorain caught the attention of eight local businessmen, who organized the Lorain Street Railway to connect the town’s business district to the factory and neighborhood south of town. The list of the founders is a who’s who of Lorain’s business community at the time. Thomas R. Bowen was a tailor and proprietor of the Union Clothing Store on Broadway;

Frank B. Vernam served as mayor of Lorain from October 1877 to April 1878, and was a real estate broker;

Thomas Wilford and Robert Crowley were lake captains of wide renown; Irwin D. Lawler established and edited the first newspapers in both Lorain and Amherst, and was also a real estate broker and attorney;

Note: you can find the Lawler ( The Leo) tragedy here

John B. Tunte (ED note: also killed by the sinking of the Leo) was the leading grocer in town and a real estate broker in partnership with Lawler; Walter Root was a farmer and member of a pioneering family involved in various business ventures in town, including a feed store and a bank. The final investor is listed as “H.F. Borrow”, but may have been Henry Barrows – proprietor of the Lorain Flouring Mills on Broadway. Thomas Bowen was elected president of the new company, while Frank Vernam served as manager and superintendent of the railway.

So thanks to the Lorain Street Railway I went off the track again…….. to be continued

October 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm 6 comments

October 3rd- Signs and Times – Chris Ritchey

chrisdisplayTuesday the 1st of October, found your sister , nephews and I at Black River Landing for the “falling of the electrical towers”. Gavin loves construction and de construction I am sure he dreams of “diggers, excavators, dump trucks and all things “hard hat”.

Since the officials were having a press conference and a 4 year old and a 20 month olds patience can wear thin, we excused ourselves started to walk down to the site of the falling tower to be -

Coverage can be found here
Chronicle Telegram

Morning Journal

Gavin and his dad are looking to build a shed ,for all the boys ( vehicles) their Chris- Miss presents

therefore, Gavin is very interested in sheds and made a bee line for the one at Black River Landing.

Once again you were there and the flash back to the day you painted the signage on that little shed for what was then Mainstreet Lorain- ( Lorain Growth Corporation). I could see you as if you were standing there once again.

The shed and the welcome sign has graced many a festival, stored many an object, had any number of photos taken as found on searching for “Lorain”

ChrsBRL sign

As Nikki explained to Gavin and Braedyn this too, was one of Uncle Chris’s signs just like the street signs in Nog’s neighborhood of Charleston Village .
Another month – so many memories – and as the tower came down – a hat tip to the future a bridge between the past and future was captured once again in the lens of the camera …..
Braedyn Gavin Chris sign

Please note I couldn’t find the source for the photos taken from the internet – but one ( Art Light- the winter photo) Mark Teleha

October 3, 2013 at 8:47 am 2 comments

Cleveland Institute of Art-Loren Naji Gallery- Chris Ritchey

invite direct


As regular readers are aware, last week I was contacted by Cleveland Institute of Art offering the opportunity to display some of my son Chris’s work. They will also realize that I faced somewhat of a dilemma as to whether or not to “display” what Chris termed as “homework” from his college courses in and amongst notable pieces of work by those who had continued after CIA in their professional capacity.


Nikki, my daughter and I decided to also include his portfolio of “advertising- design ” pieces including the last piece he designed for me for the dedication of Settlers’ Watch and commemorating a young man who lost his young life in service of his county- Eric Barnes .


I can honestly say it has been a very emotional week for my daughter and I as we once again looked through all of Chris’s works – trying to give some order to the display. Last evening was the pre show- I gulped my breath- swallowed back the tears trying not to become
an emotional puddle flanked by my husband and daughter.


Mike Kinsella CIA

Mike Kinsella CIA


Many thanks to the Chronicle Telegram and Howard Gollop-( ACCENT EDITOR) for the coverage in today’s ACCENT Section. We are hoping the coverage and the display will draw attention to the yearly scholarships in Christopher’s name to both Cleveland Institute of Art and Lorain County Community College
Chris accent article

To donate to either college scholarship please contact

Michael Kinsella – Director of Annual Giving – Alumni Relations
Voice: 216.421.7412 – Fax: 216.754.3633 –
Cleveland Institute of Art | 11141 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106


Debra L. Richter
Alumni and Scholarship Coordinator
Lorain County Community College Foundation
1005 N. Abbe Road
Elyria, OH 44035
440.366.7758 – Office
440.366.4078 – Fax

September 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm 2 comments

Sept 3rd- Tears Shed as Humour Found-Chris Ritchey

chriscia art

Texas and another September 3rd comes to mind today-

- one that we thought might bring you a cure- not to be– the cures can also kill-

and your body could not ( I found out later )take the amount of “curing” -

not a swine related flu but Acute Pulmonary Toxicity .

But it didn’t matter really did it – what catastrophic cause of the breakdown of your body which eventually took you from us – you are gone -from at least our reality.

As I looked once again through all your work trying to decide what you would want to put into the art show later this week – I was besieged by a thousand knives of my reality cutting ,slashing and ripping into what little strength I have with murderous intent — my brain flooded with so many memories – my heart mangled and wanting to stop beating – I couldn’t breathe, and then……..

Sleeping Homer

your ability to make me smile -just a silly little cartoon in amongst all the creativity , projects and seriousness –

fan pull- Chris Ritchey

fan pull- Chris Ritchey

I think of you as the fan above this desk continues to turn- I couldn’t reach the pull- after asking your dad so many times to get and extension to the chain -you took some wire and in just a couple of minutes made me one-

Hey mum you should know by now how to make men dance to your tune

It was weeks before I noticed my dancing man was anatomically correct— and I still smile every time I have to pull his leg to turn on the fan.

So yesterday I breathed once more looked through all the, work, photos and files and once again you spoke……… and thanks to you – a smile played once more on my lips as tears fell …….

September 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

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