Frederick W. Ritz, a lifelong resident of Bridgehampton who owned a tree service company and an insurance company and volunteered with the local ambulance corps, died of complications of a stroke on July 18 at Quiogue’s Kanas Center for Hospice Care. He was 85.
Fred Ritz established an arborist company, the Fred Ritz Tree Service, before buying a local insurance agency, which he renamed the Ritz Agency. In later years, the company merged with Dayton and Osborne of East Hampton to form Dayton, Ritz, and Osborne, of which Mr. Ritz’s son, Frederick W. Ritz of Water Mill, is a principal.
Mr. Ritz was known as a musical man, singing in a quartet with the Hamptons Barbershop Chorus and in the choir at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. He could play just about any musical instrument by ear, his family said.
Mr. Ritz was born in Southampton on June 28, 1934, to Frederick W. Ritz and Eva Hildreth Ritz, and grew up on Hildreth Avenue in Bridgehampton. Among his favorite spots as a child were the Sagg Swamp Preserve and, across the street from his house, the Beebe Windmill, where his inscriptions on the interior can still be seen, much to the delight of his grandchildren, his family said.
Mr. Ritz attended the Bridgehampton School and then earned an associate’s degree from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks. He later completed a bachelor’s degree at the New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse. After he graduated, Mr. Ritz enrolled in the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., and served in the Navy as a gunnery officer in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the U.S.S. Rooks, a Fletcher-class destroyer.
In January of 1962, Mr. Ritz married Evelyn May Bradford of East Hampton, known as Cissy, who survives. In addition to a son, the couple had a daughter, Caroleigh Evarts of New Canaan, Conn., who also survives.
Mr. Ritz volunteered for the Bridgehampton Ambulance Corps from 1962 to 1982, and was an active member of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church as a deacon and a trustee. He served on the board of the Nature Conservancy and on the board of governors of the Bridgehampton Club. He was also a member of the Sag Harbor Yacht Club and a former member of the Coral Beach Club in Bermuda.
He “loved everything outdoors” and “was revered by all as a consummate gentleman and gracious sportsman,” his family said. Mr. Ritz enjoyed golf, skiing, ice-skating, boating, and spending time in the Adirondacks, particularly as a devoted alumnus of Paul Smith’s College.
He could “fix just about anything,” and took his grandchildren for rides on his John Deere tractor, played piano for them, spent many hours in his workshop working on projects with them, and took them on long walks in the woods and on the beach.
He will be “remembered by family and friends as an integral part and trusted friend of the Bridgehampton community,” his family said. “His genuine kindness, warm character, generosity, and quick wit will be missed.”
In addition to his wife and two children, Mr. Ritz is survived by six grandchildren. A brother, Robert E. Ritz, died before him.
A celebration of his life will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church.
A private family burial service was held July 21 at Edgewood Cemetery in Bridgehampton, with the Rev. Peter Sulyok of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church presiding.
The family has suggested memorial donations to the Bridgehampton Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 1280, Bridgehampton 11932, or to the Nature Conservancy for the Sagg Swamp Preserve, 142 Route 114, East Hampton 11937.