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Stephen Ritzenthaler Obituary

Stephen Ansel Ritzenthaler, 73, of Cannon Falls and Lake City,  died on Sunday, March 12, 2017 after a three-month battle with non-Hodgkin’s Mantle Cell Lymphoma.
    Stephen, son of Ansel E. and Geraldine Ritzenthaler, was born January 29, 1944 in Reedsburg, Wis. and then moved to Springfield, Minn. at the age of four, where he completed his public-school education in 1962.  He received further music education from University of Northern Colorado in Greeley from 1962-1966 and from University of Minnesota, Mankato for his masters in the early 1980’s.  His principle trumpet teachers were Clifford Aamoth, Wayman Walker and Thomas Giles. Stephen began his teaching career in Comfrey, Minn. in 1966 and became director of bands at Lake City in 1969.  “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 band director in Lake City.
    In 1986 he was 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 Dec. 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.
     Steve is survived by his wife of nine years, Mary Ellen Evenson Sturm;   sister, Anne (Dick) Hawkins; nieces, Pegi Cull, Ginna Hanson, Betsy Chernof and Katy Booth, and their families; Stepson Thomas (Lori) Peterson; step daughter, Jayne Overstreet and grandsons Jack Overstreet and Sam Peterson; brother-in-law,  Jack Evenson; sister-in-law, Karen Johnson; along with hundreds of music students that he considered “his kids”. He was preceded in death by his mother, Geraldine Bochman Ritzenthaler and father, Ansel E. Ritzenthaler.    
    A Celebration of Life will be Saturday, May 13, 3 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.

The Lake City Graphic
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ISSN 2994-1059 (print)  ISSN 2994-1067 (online)