Cathryn Flowers Ritchie, age 73, passed away quietly on Sunday morning February 11th, 2024, after a long bout with dementia and kidney failure.
Cathryn was born in Torrance, California in 1950 to George and Eva Flowers. She was one of three children, with her older brother, Craig, and her twin sister, Marg. The family moved to Ontario, CA and Colorado Springs, CO. Cathryn is survived by her brother, a retired chemistry professor who lives in Albany, GA, with his wife Debbie and their youngest daughter Lydia. Cathryn graduated from Covenant College in Chattanooga, TN and Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO with a Master of Arts in Counseling and Religion.
She recommended these schools at every opportunity and adopted the college’s hymn, “All for Jesus!” as her favorite, and her life’s goal. Alanna and Scott also went to the college. She also studied briefly at L’Abri in Greatham, England, the study center founded by Francis Schaeffer, one of her heroes. Another of her heroes was John ML Young, a professor at Covenant College and former missionary to Japan and China. Her heroes, and others at both Covenants, showed such exemplary hospitality to Cathryn that she determined to do the same for others, a commitment she joyfully kept throughout her life.
After graduation, Cathryn served as chaplain at Missouri Baptist hospital, then at St. Luke’s school of nursing, both in St. Louis. At St. Luke’s she was simultaneously the student Counselor, financial aid officer and recruiter, visiting high schools in and around Missouri. She was a deacon and the singles group coordinator at her church, Fellowship of the Lamb. She met her husband-to-be at Fellowship of the Lamb in 1981. Steve Ritchie, an engineer from California, was on assignment in St. Louis. They met with only five weeks remaining before his return to California. A couple months later, Steve returned to St. Louis for their wedding, and they moved to Costa Mesa, California where their two daughters, Caitlin and Alanna, were born.
Then they moved to nearby El Toro (now called Lake Forest), where they had two sons, John and Scott. At the same time, Cathryn and Steve were involved in establishing Aliso Creek Presbyterian Church (PCA). Cathryn became a Creative Memories (scrapbooking) consultant, while homeschooling all four children. She joined Steve on a missions trip to Uganda, teaching pastors’ wives and doing a Vacation Bible School for the children. The family moved to Oviedo, Florida in 1997, where Steve continued his engineering work and they joined St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church (PCA).
Cathryn also continued Creative Memories, started a group of friends called Bagel Buddies, sang in the church choir, joined a writer’s group called Word Weavers, wrote poetry and became an International Home Stay coordinator: finding homes for students from other countries so they could know American Christians up close and experience a family’s hospitality. Cathryn cared for perhaps 150 of these students in her home for periods ranging from a few days to over a year.
In recent years, with advancing dementia, when Cathryn had lost all ability to operate her cell phone or a TV remote, she amazed one of her hospital nurses, saying “I remember you from when I was here a few months ago with my stroke.” The nurse, knowing of her dementia, said “No, I don’t think we’ve met.” Cathryn proceeded to remind her of several details of her, and her husband’s, recent life from that earlier conversation. The nurse, wide-eyed, replied, “I guess we did meet.” When she could no longer converse, she would gain instant rapport with a tech or doctor or nurse by sincerely observing, “You are very beautiful!” or, “I love your hair!” or, “That’s a beautiful bracelet!”
Cathryn is survived by her husband Steve, who retired in 2022, and their children: Caitlin lives in Orlando, loves to cook, make jewelry and art projects, and has been helping at home as a caretaker for Cathryn alongside Steve. Alanna Salussolia lives in Jacksonville as an SEO and marketing consultant, with her husband, Michael and their daughter, Lucy. John works for Amazon, and lives in Bowman, Ga, with his wife Rachael and their children Hannah, David, Jonathan, Caleb, Leah, Sarah, Jacob and Annalee. Scott lives in Chiba, Japan with his wife Misaki, teaching English and singing, playing and composing music in a rock band.