Former Springfield man, Stephen A. Ritzenthaler, 73, of Cannon Falls and Lake City, died March 12, 2017, from non-Hodgkin’s Mantel Cell Lymphoma.
Stephen Ritzenthaler, son of Ansel E. “Rick” and Geraldine Bockman Ritzenthaler, was born Jan. 29, 1944, in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, and was reared in Springfield, Minnesota. He was a 1963 graduate of Springfield High school. He received his music education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and his masters from the University of Minnesota, Mankato. His principal trumpet teachers were Clifford Aamoth, Wayman Walker, and Thomas Giles. He began his teaching career in Comfrey, Minnesota, and for many years was the Director of Bands at Lake City, Minnesota Junior/Senior High School. “Ritz” retired in 2000 from a very successful career that found his concert, jazz and marching bands receiving “Superior” awards from every adjudicator during his 31 years as a high school director. In 1986 he was the recipient of the “Citation of Excellence” award from the National Band Association for his outstanding contributions to band and band music.
Music continued to be his focus after retirement. He was a member and associate conductor of the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band in Red Wing. During winter months, he played cornet with the Salt River Brass Band of Phoenix, the Mesa City Band and the Viewpoint Concert Band and became conductor of that band in 2015.
In 2007 Steve was inducted into the Lake City Hall of Fame for his Outstanding Life’s work.
“Ritz” was an avid golfer and was a member of Lake City Country Club for many years and more recently a member of Cannon Falls Golf Club. Winters in Arizona kept him golfing year around. His last game on December 8 was memorable for having an eagle out of a sand trip.
Travel was a great part of Steve and Mary Ellen’s life together with several European river cruises being at the top of the list and long road trips coming in second.
Preceded in death by mother Geraldine Bockman Ritzenthaler and father Ansel E. Ritzenthaler, Steve is survived by his wife of nine years, Mary Ellen Evenson Sturm, sister Anne Hawkins and husband Dick, nieces Pegi Cull, Ginna Hanson, Betsy Chernof and Katy Booth and their families; stepson Thomas Peterson and wife Lori; stepdaughter Jayne Overstreet and grandsons Jack Overstreet and Sam Peterson; brother-in-law Jack Evenson; and sister-in-law Karen Johnson, along with hundreds of music students that he considered “his kids.”
The celebration of his life will be Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. in the Lincoln High School Auditorium in Lake City with fellowship and sharing a meal in the high school cafeteria following the service.
Memorials will go toward the Lake City Band Shell Fund, if the project is approved, or to a music scholarship for Lake City students seeking careers in music.