James Frank Ritchie
May 17, 2023
After battling cancer with a relentlessly positive attitude for over 12 years, James Frank Ritchie, age 75, passed away peacefully on April 29, 2023.
Jim was born October 7, 1947, in Denver, Colorado, to Frank G. and Elizabeth J. Ritchie (Young), joining older sister JoAnn (Ritchie) Griffin, five years his senior. The family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1952, settling in Mount Vernon, WA where Jim spent most of his childhood.
When Jim was just 13 years old, his father unexpectedly passed away. After struggling with the loss of his Dad in his early teenage years, Jim was sent to attend the University School in Victoria, Canada and then on to the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM after a short stint at Mount Vernon High School. Jim's mother would get remarried in 1962 to James Lowe who was an incredibly positive influence in Jim's life. It was during these formative years with exposure to people from different parts of the world that Jim discovered what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to fly jets.
Jim attended the University of Washington on an ROTC scholarship in 1966 and became a member of Delta Chi fraternity. In the summer of 1967, Jim met his future bride Cindy Jo Misner of La Conner, in the pea fields of Skagit Valley. They would elope to Michigan in 1968, get married and start a family while Jim completed his degree at UW. Following his graduation in 1970, Jim and Cindy moved to Enid, OK where his childhood dream would become a reality when he earned his wings and became an instructor pilot on the T-37. He would soon transition to fly the C-130 as part of the 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron and the Air National Guard. For Jim, flying the "Hercules" in the Vietnam era was a great source of pride. The late part of his military career saw him flying the C-9 in the Navy Reserves.
Military life provided many adventures for Jim and Cindy including welcoming their three children at three different military posts. Joseph J.(Joe) Ritchie II was born in 1970 in Enid, OK. Fayetteville, NC, was the next stop and the birthplace of Michael B. (Mike) Ritchie. Then on to an exciting assignment at RAF Mildenhall in Lakenheath, England where they welcomed their daughter, Catherine D. (Catey) Ritchie.
In 1979, Jim and the young family left England and returned to La Conner, WA for Jim to pursue a commercial airline pilot role. After a year in La Conner, Jim was hired to fly for Continental Airlines, based in Denver, CO, and the family was on the move again. Jim and Cindy bought their first family home in Conifer, CO, and settled in for a long career with Continental. Unfortunately, his Continental tenure was cut short after only 18 months when he was furloughed. Jim quickly pivoted to roles with Troy Construction and Stone and Webster Engineering firm to make ends meet while pursuing new airline opportunities. In December of 1981, Jim's luck changed and he was hired by Alaska Airlines bringing the family permanently home to La Conner with Jim based in Seattle.
Alaska Airlines was a very special place to Jim. He spent 26 years at Alaska flying the 727, MD-80 and 737s living the professional life he always aspired to live. Jim truly loved going to work and it took him to destinations all around the world. Among the many things he loved at Alaska was his role as the Union Hotel Representative or as his friends chose to call/tease him, "Hotel Boy." Jim retired in October of 2007 but always remained Captain Ritchie.
Jim also considered himself very lucky in love. After 35 happy years married to Cindy, Jim moved to Seattle to live the big city life. Three years later he again found love with Jan Dixon. Jim and Jan married in 2007 in Hawaii and enjoyed ten fun filled years together traveling and reveling with friends in West Seattle until Jan's passing in 2015.
Until moving to Timber Ridge Senior living community in 2022, Jim spent his last 20 years in Brown's Point and West Seattle, living on or near the water. He loved entertaining at his condo on Beach Drive, crabbing on the Sound with his daughter, hunting pheasants in Iowa, and golfing with his buddies and his sons. He was always looking for spontaneous adventures and loved to jump on an Alaska jet and just get away.
Jim was always the life of the party with a smile on his face, ready to make you a cocktail and tell tales! So many fun times to remember and fun stories to tell. Jim is survived by his three children and five grandchildren including Joe and his sons Joey (12) and Nicky (10) of Snoqualmie , Mike and his son Conner (11) and daughter Lily (7) of La Conner, and Catey with her husband Steve Phillips and their daughter Ika (6) also of La Conner. Jim is also survived by his sister Joann Griffin and her husband Peter, living outside of Toronto, Canada.
Greatly missed but never forgotten. Rest easy Captain Ritchie.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to American Society for Suicide Prevention, afsp.org.