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Eleanor M. Ritter


Eleanor M. Ritter, 78, of Willet, NY passed away at her home on Monday, July 13, 2009, losing her battle with lymphoma cancer.

December 16, 1930, Eleanor Mae Smith was born in Kingston, PA to Viola Irene Dodson Smith and Emery Thompson Smith. Eleanor graduated from Vestal High School in 1949. She went on to graduate from Cortland Normal School (SUNY Cortland) in 1952 with her degree in Education. She taught in the Marathon Elementary School from 1952 to 1986 when she retired. Many young minds were expanded by her years of dedication to the youth in Marathon.

Never one to be satisfiedwith only one activity going, Eleanor started and ended each day with dairy farming. It was the love of farming that brought a chance meeting with Mr. Carl Ritter to her home. These soul mates met, and ultimately married on December 16, 1984. The love of land and dairy farming was a passion shared by her husband Carl.

Eleanor's retirement from teaching in 1986 allowed her to pursue other passions. She explored her artistic side and took up floral painting of slate, and other items as decorations. She continued her teaching outside of the classroom by becoming an even more active member in the community, her church and charitable organizations. Even after Carl and Eleanor retired from dairy farming in 1998, they kept their hand in the industry raising beef on their small farm in Willet.

Eleanor felt strongly about supporting the NYS Farm Bureau with her time and experience. She was currently serving as secretary for the Cortland County Farm Bureau.

She joined Eastern Star in 1985, served as Matron in 1989, and has served as secretary of Marathon Chapter #101 OES since 1991. Eleanor's dedication to the organization was honored in 1998 by her appointment as NYS OES District Deputy Grand Matron of the Cortland Madison District OES and again in 2002 and 2003 in her appointment as NYS OES Grand Representative to Saskatchewan.

Eleanor has served on the Administrative Council of Killawog United Methodist Church, and as secretary when needed over the many years of her membership. One of her favorite events each year was the "Time and Talent Auction".

She holds the distinction of being the first woman to be Supervisor for the Town of Willet.

Although Eleanor and Carl had no children, they were surrounded by family and friends who loved them deeply. Eleanor is survived by her older brother: Donald L. Smith (Wilma), Sparta NJ; younger sister: Margaret I. Smith Gaylord (Glendon) Vestal, NY; sister-in-law: Wanda S. (Mrs. Thomas Smith) Wanck (Glenn), Endicott, NY. Eleanor is survived by many loving nieces and nephews here and in the Netherlands. Miss Molly, the family dog, and the "girls" beef cattle out in the pasture will miss their caretaker.

She was pre-deceased her first husband Elwyn Wilson, her younger brother, Thomas Herbert Smith, nephew Michael T. Smith, and in February 2009 by her husband, Carl B. Ritter.

Eleanor's enthusiasm, flower gardens, floral painting, and most of all how she shared her time, knowledge, and efforts without reserve will be missed by us all.

A memorial service for Eleanor will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday July 25, 2009 at the Killawog United Methodist Church with Reverend Gene Jensen officiating assisted by Fred M.S. Downs. Music will be provided by Betty Fredenburg. A light meal prepared by the ladies of the church and Marathon #101 OES and fellowship for all will follow the service at the church until 5:00 p.m.

Expressions of sympathy in memory of Eleanor may be directed to Caring Community Hospice of Cortland, 11 Kennedy Parkway, Cortland, NY 13045; Envirothon, C/O Soil & Water Conservation District, 100 Grange Place, Cortland, NY 13045; Marathon Chapter #101 Order of Eastern Star, c/o PO Box 67, Killawog, NY 13794; or Killawog United Methodist Church, Killawog, NY 13794.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the K.L. Sharp Funeral Home, Cincinnatus, NY.

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Eleanor will be remembered with great fondness by us and our kids who had her for a teacher.

Jessica and George Vanderwoude Aug 7 2012 12:00 AM

Eleanor was a woman of strong convictions, and she acted on those convictions to make her corner of the world a better place.

I lived in Willet during her tenure as Supervisor and found her to be a remarkable leader. She leaves a legacy of service to her community.

Loma Wilkins Aug 7 2012 12:00 AM

Our deepest sympathies

Cortland Area Retired Teachers' Association Aug 7 2012 12:00 AM

Eleanor was a very special woman who could make you feel special. She had a great outlook on life and could find the 'funny side' of most things. She will be missed by us.

Dick and Mary Wagner Aug 7 2012 12:00 AM