Josephine Ritchie's life has been filled with many careers: teacher, mother, and college president's wife. And somehow during all of these occupations, she has managed to pursue her interests in music, the fine arts and early childhood education.
Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Josephine attended Fairfax Hall Junior College in Waynesboro and studied piano at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton before coming to Roanoke. She graduated with honors from Roanoke College in 1941 with a degree in fine arts and completed her masters of education at the University of Miami where she later received a Media Certification in Library Science.
Josephine began her teaching career working as a first grade teacher and librarian at South Miami Elementary School in Miami, Florida. In 1953 she moved to Oneonta, New York, where her husband Miller was named president of Hartwick College and she assumed the role of first lady. After serving six years at Hartwick, the Ritchies moved to Oregon to accept the responsibilities of president and first lady of Pacific University. During this time, Mrs. Ritchie served on the Founding Board of the Tuality Valley Mental Health Center, and the American Association of University Women's Oregon State Division Board of Directors, the College Faculty Program, and the First National Program Planning Committee in Washington, DC.
Her musical talents are quite evident. She has taught piano and has performed a two-piano concert for the Portland Oregon Symphony Society. She has served as a member of the Portland Opera Guild, the Oregon Symphony Association, the Oregon Symphony Women's Auxiliary Organizer, and the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity of Pacific University.
In 1991, Dr. and Mrs. Ritchie jointly received the Harvey and Emeline Clark Medal of Merit from Pacific University. The award is the highest honor the University bestows, and it was the first such recognition of a couple. Mrs. Ritchie was cited for her exceptional contributions supporting and gaining support for the fine arts program, the library and the preservation of Old College Hall, the oldest academic building in the West.
Miller Ritchie, her husband of 60 years, writes, "since the day of our marriage, she has been so helpful in so many ways - my secretary, the editor of all I have written, the inspiration of all my good speeches." The Ritchies have three children, John, Jo Ann, and Elizabeth Jane, and 3 grandchildren.
Josephine Marie Barnett Ritchie, for your dedication to the fine arts and for your inspiration and devotion to your family, it is an honor to present you with the Roanoke College Medal.
Josephine Barnett Ritchie received the Roanoke College Medal in 1999.