May 5, 1971. Each day brings its own fulfillment! Today was Elmer's! Yes, my good friends, our Elmer died this morning! Died, you say -- but what is Death but to Live? For now, the body that encircled Elmer for his nearly 82 years is dead, but the Spirit that was within that body is now living, I 'm sure -- in complete happiness with our Creator.
But we that are left behind still nurture our selfish desires -- we cannot be joyful that he is gone -- because you see, we wanted another day, another time -- to hear his witticisms, to absorb his wise statements -- and he had many. Elmer was an individualist, a philosopher and a humanitarian. He loved everyone and lived his faith.
To know what you want to do with your life is a wonderful thing -- Elmer had his convictions. He knew he wanted to be a preacher, he knew he loved people; and he knew he loved steam. And he did something about it! He became a preacher and administered to many people throughout his lifetime. He gathered innumerable friends throughout his ministry and from just being 'Elmer.' I said he loved steam -- and he did something about it. With the July-August issue, the Iron-Men Album completed 25 years of publishing. In doing this, just ponder on the enjoyment he has brought to so many people, for the subscription lists over 9,000 now taking his magazine. And, as many of you-know, in 1966 at the age of 76 he started the Gas Engine Magazine. This is the 34th issue. Our mailing list for this, publication is over 5,000. How many of us have that courage or inspiration at a much younger age? Not only did he offer a medium for folks of same interests to get together, but he has preserved the past for the future. What a wonderful credit to a man's life! Think of the participants at the Reunions and the fun and friendships they share. Elmer was also instrumental in helping organize these first shows over 25 years ago.
Elmer was a sentimentalist, but also a realist! He would always welcome and appreciate a favor, be it a card, a few words, a visit or a flower. But he also knew our ultimate end and two years ago, without Earlene knowing, he made arrangements to go to a photographer and have his picture taken -- the one you see on the cover. He told Earlene he had it taken so we would have a good picture of him for the magazine and for the Ministerium Paper after he was gone. This is why he made the appointment -- he thought it would be needed before too long. He startled Earlene, but he just chuckled and got a kick out of startling us all. When we admonished him as to his motive, he had exactly the same grin you see. It is an excellent picture, capturing the innermost of Elmer L. Ritzman -- the top 'Iron-Man' of them all, and certainly an advocate for the gas engine 'buffs.'
I said we can't be joyful, but we are truly thankful and have a blessed happiness in knowing that Elmer is now gone on to better things and that he didn't have to remain a long while in a bed of suffering or inactivity. We are all better for having known such a remarkable person and don't be surprised if you glimpse his spirit at the Reunions -- he'll be there, I'm sure -- unless he's too busy taking care of such like matters in a more wonderful place.
Submitted by his loving friend and secretary - Anna Mae.