When I think about Jim Ritvo – first I have to smile and second I am saddened thinking that such a wonderful human being was taken from this world so prematurely. Jim's obituary in the Rutland Herald really captures him, so after a couple of personal memories, I'll let the beautiful words of his family speak for themselves.
Three (of the many) memories of Jim:
First, years ago I called Jim, as was customary in the fall on behalf of the Nobles Annual Fund, and had a typically good-humored exchange. Jim made a contribution that year, but there were conditions placed on the promised gift. Only upon a written bio of each classmate would his gift be made. There are very few people I would have done this for, but for Jim, it was an assignment I remember completing and chuckled most of the time as I went through each bio. His gift, as promised, was made upon delivery.
Second, how fortunate those of us were who received Jim's last minute Fine Arts tutorial session on how to recognize different paintings and artists for the next day's exam. The session was classic “Ritvo” entertaining and educational. I'm sorry to say that even with Jim's help, my total confusion about pictures and artists returned about 24 hours after the exam.
Third, and finally, "The VO Committee" - without equal. Jim is probably the only Nobles graduate to serve as a committee all by himself.
Jim's family "remember him as an exceptionally smart, compassionate and delightfully funny man who approached the world with unshakable kindness. No one can recall Jim saying a harsh word about anyone, with the exception of a few politicians, criminals and the occasionally careless Patriot, Celtic or Red Sox player."
"Jim's world centered on his adored wife Marjorie and their children, Jesse and Molly. Their circle of consummate devotion is profoundly altered by their loss."
Following Nobles, Jim "graduated from Tufts University and was awarded a master's degree in Urban Affairs from St. Louis University. His law degree was from Boston University College of Law. In 1975, he and Marjorie moved to Vermont and Jim began a 30-year private law practice which specialized in helping families negotiate the legal system. His courtroom brilliance and his devotion to people in need merged with an antic but gentle sense of humor and earned him the nickname of 'St. Jim' in northern Vermont. Jim was the president and one of the founders of Woodbury College in Montpelier."
"Jim's life was always aimed toward fairness, whether in court or, later in life, in film. Many of us remember '132 Main/ Jim's weekly show on local cable access TV. He interviewed, with charm and delicacy, many people who have contributed to the richness of our lives in Vermont. His documentary films include 'One Family: An Ethiopian Adoption'; 'The Red Wagon: Facing Hunger'; 'On the Edge: Holes in the Vermont Health Care Safety Net'; and several films about art and education in Vermont. Turning from practicing law to film, Jim felt that the elements of being a good lawyer - being able to tell a client's story convincingly to a judge and jury - were directly applicable to documentary film making."
"As deeply serious as his commitments were to the public good, Jim knew how to have fun . . . Jim was wise, patient and calm, which made him an exceptional listener and mentor. In Yiddish there is the word 'mensch' to describe the decency, honor, warmth, kindness, intelligence and steadfast character that one finds only in people who are beloved. Jim was a mensch. His life has added to the sum good in the world."
We who knew Jim Ritvo are extremely fortunate. He enriched our lives, he was a mensch, and we miss him.
Thank you, Jim, for help in making this world a better place.
- Ned Bigelow