Tom Vernon Ritchie, professor emeritus of music at Truman State University, died Feb. 20, 2013, in Bloomington, Ind. He was 90 years old.
He spent the final years doing what he enjoyed most—writing music and attending opera and other musical performances at the IU Jacobs School of Music. Ritchie was a professor of music theory and composition for more than 40 years. He also was a professional concert pipe organist and held associate certification from the American Guild of Organists. Prior to joining the faculty at Truman, he was chairman of the Music Department at Drury College and taught at Wichita State. For nearly three decades, students from south-central Iowa and north-central Missouri who wanted to teach music enrolled in his classes.
In 2008, more than 60 faculty members, former students and friends paid tribute to him during an alumni reunion at Truman where they performed more than a dozen of his works.
In addition to his classroom duties, Ritchie composed the music and wrote the libretto for the opera, “The Children of Hamelin,” based on the Robert Browning poem, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” The opera premiered at Truman in 1981. He also composed numerous works for voice, chorus, piano, woodwinds and brass.
Ritchie was a World War II veteran. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942. After training in amphibious assault at Fort Pierce, Fla., he commanded several landing craft during the invasion of Iwo Jima in 1944, landing Marines of the Fourth Division on the first morning of the battle. He was also present at the landings on Okinawa. Ritchie was deployed to the invasion fleet for Japan before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
His children have established the Tom V. Ritchie Memorial Scholarship Fund at Truman State University.