Dec 232013

Darlene M. Ritter, 83, passed into eternal rest on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, after a long illness. Funeral services were held Dec. 21 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Centennial Building in Taylor.
She was the youngest child of John and Minnie Burkhead (Witt), and was born in California.
Darlene went to grade school there, then the family moved to Grant’s Pass, Ore., where she attended high school. She was in all the school plays and Drama Club.
Her family returned to Southern California, where after high school she attended the Pasadena Playhouse and modeled in newspapers. She was in a few “spaghetti” westerns, and was in a movie with John Wayne, as well as Canyon Passage.
Darlene met Dick Wammack when she was 21. She fell in love with the World War II veteran and they married. They wanted to have a family, but decided to adopt. They adopted one daughter, Disa.
She was active in Eastern Star and her husband was a Mason.
Darlene lost her husband suddenly in 1974 and had to reenter the workforce as a single mom. She worked at Hughes Aircraft for eight years.
Two years later she met the love of her life, James Ritter Sr. He was a patient man who asked her to marry him three times before she said yes.
In 1982, they moved from Hawthorne, Calif., to Taylor. They were ready to live a country life and leave the big city. They bought their “farmette,” where they grew everything Jim could think of to grow and she learned to can. They loved their home and helped build Immanuel Lutheran Church in Taylor.
Jim worked for the Town of Taylor, the Snowflake Unified School District and at home fixing every mower he could get his hand on–to his delight, while Darlene learned how to get dirty for the first time in her life.
Darlene worked at Highland Primary School in Snowflake as the librarian for almost 15 years. She was a huge lover of books, the arts and music. She loved the kids and sharing her love for reading with them. She would be so happy when an adult would say they recognized her as their old librarian and she helped them to love to read. I think she was most proud of that, besides her grandkids.
Even though she was a proper lady, behind closed doors she had a quick wit and loved to laugh. She enjoyed a practical joke, even if it was on her. Although she never took the $20 we offered for her to say, “Whazzzzzzzzzzzup,” she was willing to put on a silly chicken hat for photos while the rest of the family was on the floor laughing.
She loved Mexican food, ice cream and chocolate. She loved baseball and even got Jim to watch with her. She also loved knitting, soap operas and American Idol.
She lost her husband Jim to cancer in 2000, and spent the next 13 years wishing he were here. They had a love for each other that few people get to witness. Jim would have moved heaven and earth for her, and she’d learn about anything for him. They always said, “I love you,” to each other and found ways to make the other happy.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim; her parents, John and Minnie Burkhead; her sister, Lorraine Chapman; two brothers, J.B. and George Burkhead; her beloved sister-in-law, Lorretta; two nephews, Randy Chapman and John Burkhead; and her stepson, Jerry Ritter.
Survivors include her daughter, Disa Gardner of Taylor; her stepson, Jim Ritter Jr. (Bettie) of Show Low; her stepdaughters, Suzie Ijames (Steve) Whiteright, Texas, and Alice (Mr. Jim) of Texas; 15 grandchildren; and 28 great-grandchildren.
Silver Creek Mortuary of Taylor was in charge of the arrangements.Ritter,Darlene obit photo