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June 27, 1953 - April 11, 2012 VICI Robbie Lynn Ritchie was born at home on June 27, 1953. He was welcomed into the world by his parents, James Cecil Ritchie and Clara Gracie (Tillman) Ritchie; and his six siblings. He was raised in the Baptist Church and grew up on the family farm in the community of Stoney Point outside Stilwell, Oklahoma, in Adair County.Being the youngest of seven children, Rob was surrounded by loving siblings who often described him as "being the boss" and "ruling the roost" from day one. But when his sisters could get away with it, they would use toddler Rob as their dress-up doll under threat of "calling the sheriff" if he didn't comply. From his brothers, he learned the love of cars and tinkering with anything mechanical. These became lifelong hobbies of his.Rob attended Stilwell Schools for all 12 years of his primary education, graduating in 1971. During this time, he was active in the band, student council, letterman's club, FTA and athletics. Outside of school, he loved the outdoors, from running the nearby creek with his buddies, to mowing and maintaining the family farm, to helping his dad stock the ponds with minnows. He also had fond memories of helping the neighbors (the Bairds) with their extensive fruit and vegetable business. He would tell of long days hoeing the tomato fields and picking strawberries.Upon graduation of high school, Rob received a scholarship from the Oklahoma Rural Rehabilitation Corporation and attended Northeastern State University at Tahlequah. While there, he majored in sociology and minored in psychology, graduating in four years.In the fall of 1975, Rob joined his friend, Ron "Buffalo" Gray, and traveled to Boise City, in the far western Oklahoma Panhandle to harvest milo. It was the first time he had ever been west of I-35. It was there, at a local convenience store, where a young clerk caught his eye. Her name was Heather Ann Fowler, and she would soon become his wife.Rob was hired in the spring of 1976 by the Oklahoma State Department of Health as a nursing home inspector. This led Rob and Heather to Vici, OK, where they would make their home for the rest of his life. That August, they were blessed with the birth of their son, Heath Alan.For the next 30 years, Rob worked on behalf of the elderly throughout western Oklahoma, making sure they had a safe residence and that their rights were upheld. Throughout his career, he received numerous awards for diligence and excellence. He made countless friends with both residents and staff at nursing homes throughout his territory. It was common for him to know people in each facility on a first-name basis and to take extra time to catch up with familiar faces at each stop.When he wasn't working, Rob's life revolved around his home in Vici, his family and his friends. He loved keeping up with his son's sports from grade school through college. Rob was one of the first members of the Vici Lions Club, and he enjoyed the many projects and friendships that came along with it. He especially enjoyed the mowing of the park and keeping the highways clean. He was always eager to pitch in and help with any community projects, and had a great sense of pride for the little town of Vici.Rob was born with the blood disorder hemophilia, but he never let it be an obstacle in living and loving life. Like his father Cecil, Rob was a staunch St. Louis Cardinals fan. He passed that on to his son, and the two made many trips to Busch Stadium together. The Cardinals gave him one last thrill last October when they beat the Rangers in seven games in one of the greatest World Series ever.Some of Rob's other favorite things were helping Heath with the summer baseball team he coached, whether it was driving the team around the country or getting the field ready for games; he was always happy to help his son. He loved to detail and maintain his own vehicles, and he even did it as a side job for folks in town. He also had many great adventures with his closest buddies, Leland, Larry, Mick, Ken and Bob, not to mention his two favorite dogs, Junior and Eddie. For many years, Rob enjoyed helping Heather's family during harvest, whether it was greasing zerks or dumping a load of grain at the elevator before grabbing an ice-cold beer at the end of the day. He also had a soft spot for Tenkiller Lake, OU football, deer hunting, his Gator, playing Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" on the piano, the St. Louis Blues, Pink Floyd, The Wizard of Oz, underdogs, his cherry-red jet boat, the OKC Thunder and strawberry shortcake.Rob passed away peacefully late Wednesday night, April 11, 2012, with his immediate family at his side. His end came exactly 30 years and one day after his mother's passing. His life's journey was complete at the age of 58.Robbie Lynn was preceded in death by his father and mother; oldest brother, Norman "Gig" Ritchie; niece, Jennifer Ott; fathers-in-law, Max Fowler and Paul Cutter.Those who remain to celebrate and remember the life of Robbie Lynn include: wife and faithful companion, Heather; son and best friend, Heath; brother, Ronnie (Diane) Ritchie; sisters, Sue (Steve) Olson, Seretha (Don) Ott, Wylene (Jim) Brunk and Brenda (Ron) Etheridge; mother-in-law, Mary Cutter; sisters-in-law, Shelley Fowler, Nancy Roberts and Sandy Ritchie; brother-in-law, Robbie Fowler; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, of whom he was very proud; and the many, many friends who brightened his life and appreciated the cheerfulness he could deliver with a wave a smile.Rob's wishes were to not have a traditional funeral. A memorial service will be held at Vici later this year.

Published in The Oklahoman on Apr. 16, 2012
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