As a young boy the family lived in rural Yuma County. His entire education was in Wray, Colorado. When he was in high school, he worked for his Dad in the excavation business. After high school he continued to work for his Dad, then he had his own business Ritchey’s Excavation. He also worked for Wray Redi-Mix, then he went to work for the East Yuma County Cemetery District. He retired from there on October 31, 2013 after 36 years. He was very involved in all the changes and decisions on our cemeteries in the District. He had belonged to the Wray Elks.
December 4, 1965, Gene and Lois Prather were married in Wray, Colorado. Three children, Ron, Travis and Sabrena joined the family. Unfortunately the marriage did not last. Later, he found love with Linda Menke. Gene really enjoyed having his grandkids around. He always had ice cream, and as the grandkids always said the best cookies in the country. Sometimes we think he enjoyed feeding them full of ice cream, cookies and anything sugar filled and then sending them home for the parents to deal with the sugar high. He also loved to give the grandkids a huge cup to go pick purple mulberries.
Gene loved to go hunting and fishing. He often talked about going fish or hunting before and after school. He and his brother, Sonny always went opening day deer hunting until Sonny’s health wouldn’t let him. At that time, Gene and son, Travis started their deer hunting together. One of his delights was taking granddaughter, Ozzi on her first hunting trip when she was 2 ½ months old.
Gene, Sonny, Steve Ivins, Joe and Victor Hart got to go fishing many times. GeneLooked forward to retiring, so he could go fishing anytime he wanted to. Gene also loved to garden. He was like his Mom, they could have a garden the size of a postage stamp and feed a ton of people. He became an avid canner, Learning from his mom and passing the dying art on to his son, Travis. He spent many hours and miles hauling Sabrena and her horse to 4-H and fair events.
He is preceded in death by special friend, Linda Menke, his parents, Marlin and Sylvia Ritchey, brother, Sonny Ritchey, brothers-in-law, Jim Ellis and Wilber Snelling and infant nephew, mother and father-in-law, Leo and Beryl Prather.
He is survived by his son, Ron Ritchey and wife, Kusuma, The Woodlands, Texas;Son, Travis Ritchey, Wray, Colorado; daughter, Sabrena McCasland and husband, Brian, Wray, Colorado; grandchildren: Simone, Carson and Gavin Ritchey, The Woodlands, Texas; Ozzi Ritchey, Wray; Kordell, Kenzie and Kennedi McCasland, Wray. Sisters, Mary Lou Walwer and husband, Bob, Winter Haven, Florida, Mable Snelling, Yuma, Colorado; brother, Merle and wife, Charlotte, Wray; Special friends, Steve Ivins, Joe Hart, Victor Hart, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A Memorial service was held at the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray, Colorado, Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. Inurnment was held in the Grandview Cemetery in Wray, Colorado. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.