Kenneth "Ken" Ritchey

September 18, 2023

Kenneth "Ken" Ritchey Obituary

Kenneth Paul Ritchey died unexpectedly on September 18, 2023, at his home in Halfway, Oregon, amid the majesty of Pine Valley’s Blue Mountains and the echoes of bull elk at the height of bugling season.  He was 67 years old. The cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest.

Ken was born in Akron, Ohio, on January 20, 1956, the firstborn of loving parents Paul Kenneth Ritchey and Barbara Jean (Myers) Ritchey.  He was soon joined by his four siblings and lifelong best friends:  brothers Daniel, David, and Michael Ritchey, and sister Melissa (Ritchey) Teague.  Ken was raised in Rockville, Maryland, and graduated from Colonel Zadok Magruder High School there in 1974.  As a teenager, he was an avid competitive athlete and outdoorsman, and played baseball at Frostburg State University when attending there.

Ever the adventurer, Ken enlisted in the United States Navy in 1975, where he served as cook aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Finback (SSN-670).  He spoke often and fondly of his Navy friends and the thrill and challenge of cooking for 110 seamen in a galley the size of a golf cart.

After his military service, Ken continued in the culinary arts, feeding hundreds of people at outdoor venues such as Smokey Glen Farm in Maryland and by arranging a lobster bake at the White House for President Jimmy Carter.  Of Ken's myriad talents, food and cooking were in a class by themselves.  Cooking was how Ken most enjoyed serving others and living out the Christian injunction to be a true neighbor.  Thousands of his family, friends, and perfect strangers have been met with a cake on their birthday or chicken soup when ill, always backlit with Ken’s million-dollar smile.

Ken often said that he learned his love of people and folksiness from his beloved grandmother Dora May (Harpley) Ritchey, who worked for many years as a hotel manager.  We could tell:  like his food, Ken’s warmth and exuberance were beyond compare and put people immediately at ease.  Ken also worked as a real estate agent, where he loved meeting and laughing with new people, and serving them with his sense of place and style.

In 1984 Ken married his high school sweetheart, Robin Elaine (Shipp) Ritchey.  They have three sons: Paul, Connor, and Logan.  The couple divorced in 2020.  Ken strove to share his passions with his children—cooking, athletics, wit and wordplay, music and the arts, camping, hunting, fishing, and the natural world.  They continue to share his boundless curiosity for learning and to view the world as he did—filled with new and beautiful things to discover.  Later in life, Ken shared all these things, along with warm cookies, laughs, and surprise visits, with his grandchildren as their loving, larger-than-life Grandpa.

Ken was deeply spiritual and participated in his church community, where he made many close friends.  But Ken’s Christianity transcended the meetinghouse, finding its height alongside his fellow human beings in service.  Ken did not hesitate to travel nearly 1,000 miles to assist with cleanup after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  He also spoke of being closest to his Heavenly Father when in the beautiful outdoor places he loved, surrounded by deer, turkeys, and forest.  There were many such places—Deep Creek Lake in Maryland; Mount Gretna in Pennsylvania; Jenny Lake at the foot of the Tetons in Wyoming; and Big Sur on the California coast.  Not coincidentally, Ken shared all of his favorite places with the people closest to him.  For Ken, natural grandeur and relationships were complementary paths to the divine.

Surviving to celebrate Ken’s life and to carry on his legacy are: Ken’s sons Paul Ritchey II, JD (and spouse Alyssa (Ramos) Ritchey) of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Connor Ritchey, CPA (and spouse Nicole Deaver) of Boulder, Colorado; and Logan Ritchey of Los Angeles, California; Ken’s grandchildren Sophia, Gabriella, and Hannah Ritchey, of Elizabethtown; Ken’s siblings Daniel Ritchey (and spouse Karen Ritchey), David Ritchey, Michael Ritchey (and spouse Tammy Ritchey), and Melissa (Teague) Ritchey (and spouse Donald Teague); Ken's many nephews, nieces, and cousins; and countless friends, church brothers and sisters, and fellow adventurers who were lucky to know Ken.

A memorial service for Ken will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Hall of Philosophy, 212 Gettysburg Avenue, Mount Gretna, PA 17064.  A committal service with military honors will immediately follow at 12:15, at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, 60 Indiantown Gap Road, Annville, PA 17003-9618.  All are welcome to attend.

A second public memorial service will be held in Raleigh, NC following the committal.  The time and place of that service are forthcoming.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation to the C&O Canal Trust (, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (, or another charity for wild places through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home & Cremation Services PO Box 543 Halfway, Oregon 97834.  Online condolences may be shared at


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