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In Memory of
Ernie Ritchie
- December 27, 2013

Ernie Ritchie retires on December 27, 2013
Ritchie still helping those he formed relationships with during nearly 50 years in funeral business
The Herald-Dispatch Jan 5, 2014 (0)
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HUNTINGTON -- Ernie Ritchie technically retired from Chapman's Mortuary, where he has worked for the past 37 years, on Friday, Dec. 27.
Yet, less than a week later, Ritchie was in his office preparing to participate in another funeral.
Ritchie, who started at a funeral home in Williamson before coming to Huntington, has been involved, either as a director, pastor or singer in more than 12,000 funerals during his career.
He was preparing to sing in an afternoon funeral on Thursday. He had been in on Monday helping the family with the arrangements.
Its not uncommon for retired funeral directors to stick around for a while, especially those who have been in the business as long as Ritchie. Families form relationships and often want a particular person to perform some service at a funeral for a loved one.
The upbeat, energetic 69-year-old will tell you he's loved just about every minute of it.
On the surface, it may seem counterintuitive for a man who has spent most of his time during the day with the recently deceased for 48 years to have a spring in his step.
But, as many involved in the funeral business will tell you, the joy comes from comforting and supporting those who have suffered loss.
My thing is, when I meet with a family, I try to become part of that family for that period of time and make myself feel what they are feeling and anticipate what they want, Ritchie said. "It has been a blessing. We try to treat families the same whether they're welfare recipients or millionaires. I know people from both classes -- I know some good welfare people, and I know some good millionaires. I'm somewhere in between.
Ritchie started at M.T. Ball Funeral Home in 1968. The Williamson flood of 1977 convinced him to leave.
It was actually the fifth time I got flooded, he said. My parents were living with me, and I told them they could come with me to Huntington or stay and keep getting flooded. Fortunately, they decided to come with me.
M.T. Ball closed in the early 1990s due to decreasing population in Williamson which led to a decrease in demand.
Ritchie said when he started at Chapmans Mortuary, the workload was triple that of his former employer.
It has been a great place to work and great people to work with, he said.
While Ritchie plans on staying around to help out at Chapmans, he also has some plans for retirement. He's picked up a dietitian and is on a three-days-a-week workout regimen.
He also recently became a grandfather to a baby girl.
It seems like I have more irons in the fire now than I've ever had," he said. "I have had a good life. My greatest love is the Lord, and my second greatest is my family.