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Monday, May 12, 2014

My Mom’s Red Cross Story: A Lifetime of Service

By Suzie Boyd

My late mother, Ethel Ritter, started her service with the Red Cross as a girl. She spent her late teens and early 20s rolling bandages during World War II.

After the war, Mom married and had 12 children who were the center of her life. She worked for a local engineering firm, Merrick and Co., and after she retired a former co-worker asked if she would be interested in volunteering with the Red Cross. Mom didn't hesitate. She began volunteering at the office on Havana Street every Thursday, performing administrative duties vital to the organization.

My mom’s Red Cross volunteerism continued for many years after her retirement, and she loved it. She loved it so much, in fact, that when my brother Bill (who you know as former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter) asked her if she would come watch him get sworn in as the Denver DA, her first response was, “Well, that’s my Red Cross Day.” We kids laughed because we knew: You did NOT interrupt that day. She was so loyal and believed in the Red Cross so much.

My mother did a lot of wonderful work for the Red Cross, but she got a lot from her service, too. She lived in the rural area of Strasburg, and her weekly volunteer commitment gave her a reason to come into the city. It got her out of the house and gave her purpose. When we went through her things after her death last year, we found a whole shadow box full of her Red Cross pins and memorabilia. It was such a big part of her life and something she felt really, really good about.

When my family is asked to take part in the Red Cross Ball, it’s a no brainer because the organization was so important to my mom. We are very aware of the work it does and the quick response – amazing, really – it provides for disaster relief. The Red Cross has been there through everything. It’s just such a great organization.

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