Ritchie James Hill, 1976-2004

Jennifer Ricks Cullen, friend
Richie worked with me at Taco Time in Rexburg. He was always kind to me and he was a very good worker. I always remember him being a pleasant co-worker. Years later, after I was married, I moved to Boise. Sometimes at night I would take my kids to the Ada Community library. Richie and his wife were often there with their kids. I thought what good parents they were to bring their kids to the library on a regular basis.

David Mix, friend
Ritchie was my best friend throughout high school in Rexburg. We did lots of typical teenage activies together including: hanging out, playing computer games and dating. During one such date, after dropping off my date (Amy Thueson I think), I was waiting in the Hill Family Mini-Van for Ritchie to take Stacey to her inside garage door. When he returned he was glowing and said that he kissed her for the first time. Ritchie’s perspective on the world has always been eternal. He never compromised his standards for worldly happiness. After finding out about his passing, I struggled to understand and arrived at the conclusion that he was badly needed to do work on the other side. I feel that his influence in my life is so great that it can’t be measured. I wouldn’t be who I am today without his influence. Jennifer, Tess(4), and Brynn(2) and I are saddened to hear about your family’s loss and wish you the best.

Jaime (Milbridge) Scott, friend
When I was a freshman at Ricks Ritchie and Justin were my FHE brothers. It was so much fun to have them in our group. I remember a particular FHE we had at his parents home right before he went on his mission and they had a couple of girls from Bulgaria over to the house to talk to us about their country. Two years later I was still at Ricks and Ritchie returned from his mission and I was in charge of the festival of nations we had in the Hart. I ran into Ritchie and he was writing people’s names in Bulgarian on name tags. It was only a few months later that I received my mission call to serve in Bulgaria. The awesome thing was that I already knew where it was and a little bit about it. It was awesome how the Lord places people and experiences in our lives to help prepare us for the future. I was sad to hear of Ritchie’s passing and wish you all the best. He is a wonderful person.

Dallin Slaugh, uncle
Ritchie spent a lot of time at Grandpa and Grandma Slaugh’s house in Rexburg between the time I returned from my mission in 1978 and when I left for college in 1980. He thus gained a special place in our hearts, particularly in Grandma Slaugh’s. It was always fun to have Ritchie in the house. The greatest story that I remember during this period was related by Ritchie’s mother. The way I remember it she found Ritchie covered with lipstick and asked him why he had gotten into her makeup. “This wasn’t your lipstick,” Ritchie replied, “It was mine.” “Where did you get it?” she asked, “You’re much too small to walk to the store.” “Oh, I didn’t walk to the store mom,” retorted Ritchie, “I drove the car.”

Brett Tobler, mission friend
Hill, or “Xulmche” as we used to call him, was a great friend and brother while serving in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. While I wasn’t his companion I had the opportunity to get to know him while living in a foursome of Elders in the famous Maritza 55 apartment. What I remember is that he was a person that was genuinely interested and concerned about you and all those he came in contact with. He was a dedicated and hard worker that also knew how to have fun. I remember he would play his guitar at the end of a long day or was always cooking something tasty and delicious that brought a lot of comfort in those days. This was especially helpful when we were kicked out of the city in December of 1995 and had to spend a short time in an apartment together in Sofia not knowing when or if we were going to return to Plovdiv. He was always willing to help you out and was especially concerned about the Bulgarian Saints.

Jeremy Christensen, friend
When I first moved to Rexburg in the 8th grade, on the first day of school Ritchie approached me, introduced himself as my new Deacon’s president and welcomed me. He was my first friend in Rexburg and a welcome one indeed. I will always remember sleep overs, back yard parties, and toilet papering homes of girls we had crushes on. I will always be grateful for Ritchie’s high standards, never letting in to compromise his values and encouraging the same in me by his example. Heaven is better off with Ritchie.

Janey, fellow missionary
I served with Elder Hill in the Bulgarian Sofia Mission many moons ago. I remember him as always being gregarious, considering the comfort of others before himself, and motivating people around him both verbally and through example.

Mike Slaugh, cousin
I hate to send this letter now because I know I have a whole collection of photos that would spark my memory that are hidden somewhere in Delaware. I promise to update this letter with pictures when I go home this summer. But for now I wanted to write and tell some of my favorite memories of hanging out with Ritchie.

I’m not exactly sure how old I was, but it seems like I visited Idaho in the summers from 5th to 7th grade. Those few weeks every summer where some of the best times in my childhood.

Ritchie was about a year and a half older than me and since I came from a house with only older sisters, he did a good job teaching me the things that (usually) only an older brother can do. I can remember always looking up to him, and enjoyed to follow him because we would always have ourselves a good adventure. Between the trampoline, the four-wheelers, camping, the rodeos, tubing down the Snake River, or seeing the hot springs and going swimming in the pool with the moss down the middle, Ritchie and I really had a good time.

I have a lot of memories of going down to Ricks College and going to the arcade and bowling alley there. We would go the LDS book/craft store where we would get candy and lollipops that Ritchie would always show me were made in Rexburg, ID. I remember how much Ritchie also like Rexburg and I always felt like he had really figured the place out. A few of Ritchie’s Rexburg rules were: (1) it was “Pop”, not “soda”, and it was only 25 cents for a refill at Maverick, (2) Taco Time, Red Vines and fry sauce were a lot better than Taco Bell, Twizzlers and ketchup. (3) You don’t roll up the bottom of your jeans in Rexburg. Which later was followed by not wearing your pants so low on your waist. I remember Aunt Julie saying, “When my kids get up from the dinner table they pull their pants up, when you get up from the table you pull your pants down”.

Another time Ritchie and I were down at the pool in Rexburg and I remember him someway avoiding the sun. I asked him why he did not want to get a tan and reminded him that girls liked guys with tans. He told me that he did not want to get skin cancer and he was saving his tanning years for later when he would be able to date. I remember it was only one year later when I saw him laying out catching some rays and I said, “I thought you were saving those years for later”, and he replied, “these are the later years”.

Ritchie seemed to have an endless supply of jokes and a great sense of humor. I can remember a car ride up to Jackson Hole where Ritchie gave me a marshmallow on my arm. Luckily I was young enough that I was able to pass this trick on to many more gullible people. I can remember him spending a lot of time teaching me several fun games including how to get the ring off of the two horseshoes connected by the chain puzzle.

When I would come to town, I am sure I drove the Hill parents crazy with my obsession of the four-wheelers. Ritchie would often take me out riding them even though I am sure that he had had enough. I am convinced that there is nothing I liked more in my younger years than the Hill four-wheelers. Even when I would come home from those trips to Idaho, I would stare at the picture of me on that four-wheeler. I must have shown that picture to every friend I had. I also remember the trampoline and how at the time there were no trampolines in Delaware, especially not one in the ground. I remember Ritchie telling me that if I would let him spot me 10 times on how to do a back flip, then I would be able to do it. He was right, and a few years later when I got a trampoline, (the first in Delaware), I taught a lot of people to do back flips the way he had taught me.

One particular time I remember Aunt Julie was going out and we were given specific instructions: no fireworks and no four-wheelers. After she left, I of course decided that I had to let just a couple fireworks off. As Ritchie stood by, I tried to light one but the fuse went out before it ignited so I got real close and with a match I tried to get this firework to go off. All of a sudden it shot right through my shirt and started dancing around in my armpit. When it was done I had some really bad burns under my arm. Knowing that we would be in trouble, we decided not to tell any parents and instead came up with the idea that Ritchie could drive me around on the four-wheeler while I raised my arm to let the wind blow on the wound to make it feel better. I made it through the week without getting caught but later went to a water park where I was forced to take off my shirt and the story made it back to Ritchie’s parents. I also remember Ritchie helping me pack a whole shoebox completely full of fireworks to take home on the airplane with me to Delaware. I was so excited and then surprised when I saw the shock on my dad’s face when I showed him. My dad told me that it was a big fine to bring explosives on an airplane and never to do it again. Luckily nothing ever happened.

I suppose that no trip to Idaho would be complete with out the Rodeo, and boy did I really enjoy those rodeo nights. I can remember sitting with Ritchie watching those men try to get those greased pigs in the trashcan. Ritchie would always point out the cowboys in the stands and tell me how they were bad news (not very good members of the church). One of my neatest memories was going to the Osmond concert with Ritchie where they set a record amount of fireworks off at one time.

It’s amazing how much fun we packed in to those few weeks during the summers in Idaho. Ritchie’s positive influence on me as well as our friendship will be greatly missed and never forgotten.

Misty Durfee Cook, mission friend
I had the extreme honor and priviledge of knowing Ritchie as a missionary. When serving in this capacity you see the elders and sisters in a different light. You see their undying dedication, eagerness to do what is right and their potentials as future husbands and fathers, wives and mothers. Some missionaries leave indelible impressions of the kinds of lives they will continue to live. Ritchie was such a missionary. Upon meeting Ritchie, he was quite reserved as one who wanted to follow the rules of the mission in every aspect of the word. He maintained the safe sister-elder relationship which I truly appreciated.

After my initial meeting with Ritchie, my opinion changed and he was not the quiet, reserved missionary I had first encountered. Rather, he was quite opinionated and very witty. I remember such an occasion of his wit when we traveled with Sister Partridge on a humanitarian aid adventure. We were visting orphanges, mental institutions and hospitals all in the hopes of finding out what they needed. We were visiting one particular orphanage where a lot of the children had cancer. They quickly attached themselves to us when they found out we were from the United States. I remember looking over at Ritchie as we beamed at our new found celebrity-type status. The young girls took special interest in Ritchie of course and as he spoke Bulgarian to them they liked him even more. We were able to take a tour of the facility and quickly assessed what they needed (which was a lot).

At the end of our tour the children had a special presentation for us, their newly acquired friends. It was great to experience that with a missionary such as Ritchie. Then Sister Partridge wanted to say something to the staff and children we had visited that day. Ritchie was the translator (thank heavens). Whenever Sister Partridge spoke she liked to add a little joke or something funny into her speech. The only problem is is that it doesn’t always translate into Bulgarian. I remember Ritchie doing the best he could and instead of translating the funny joke, Ritchie said something to the effect of, “She loves Bulgaria and all of you. We wish you health and strength in the years to come. Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives today” to which the crowd of children and staff replied with laughter and applause. It was our little secret. Sister Partridge told her “joke” (please forgive me, if she ever reads this) and Ritchie and I were spared the embarrassing awkward silence we knew we would experience. Thank you Ritchie.

Ritchie exemplified a dedicated servant of the Lord and I’m sure this continued until the end. What a great example to leave for friends and family, what a great example to live up to.

Craig L Winder, friend, mission companion
It was my privilege to be Ritchie’s companion in Bulgaria for two months. We served together as assistants to President Edward Partridge. I enjoyed spending time with him.

Ritchie had a favorite scripture that he enjoyed sharing with me, and with investigators, found in Mosiah 2:

And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

I have since taken great comfort in that promise. I also know that Ritchie loved his country. More than once Ritchie chastised me for wanting to purchase a Honda when I got home. Then, with pride, he would show me the picture of the Chrysler LeBaron waiting for him at home.

I loved Ritchie’s attitude. He was confident that things would work out as they should, whether that meant having to endure a particular trial or not.

Marc (cousin) and Michelle Baugh
A few years ago, Ritchie came to visit Disneyland and stayed at my Mom and Dad’s house (Phil & Elaine). While there Ritchie, Stacey, Michelle, and I were sitting around the table talking. We were telling them about how our apartment had recently been infested with ants and we were in the process of using bug sprayers to get rid of them.

The conversation turned to things that were annoying us. Ritchie’s comments seemed to bring out his darkside, or, at least to us it seemed.

“You want to really annoys me?” Richie started. “Hobos.”

A little confused, Michelle and I looked at each other.

“There are hobos all around our house,” he continued, “And every time I see one, I take off my shoe and smack it. I just want to kill them all!”

At this Ritchie suddenly stopped and noticed the look of terror and amazement in our wide eyes. Michelle and I were picturing Ritchie walking up to a bum on the street and hitting him on the face with his shoe and then walking away. Quickly Ritchie realized, “Oh, wait! You guys don’t call them ‘hobos’ down here. You call them . . . . daddy long legs.”

Michelle and I turned and looked at each other and then we all just started busting up laughing for a few minutes. Ritchie laughed along as he thought about himself hitting some old bag lady with his shoe. He clarified that he was talking about spiders and not transients, and we all had a great laugh.

Jason Hay, friend, mission companion
I’ve a myriad of memories from the 4+ months I spent in Bulgaria training Richie. I remember a week where we taught 18 discussions and rewarded ourselves with a game of basketball, a run, and a trip to McDonalds. I remember how easy it was to work hard with a companion like him. He made the trials of Bulgaria easy to overcome. It was the type of person he was.

Nate Crook, friend, mission companion, distant cousin
I first learned about Ritchie just after I received my mission call to Bulgaria in January of ’95. My grandmother was excited because her nephew’s grandson had recently entered the MTC to prepare to go to Bulgaria as well. Not only would I get to serve with another Idaho country boy, but he would be a blood relative as well. In time, he became something much more important than either of those two things-he became my friend.

I didn’t truly grow to appreciate Elder Hill until we were given the opportunity to serve together in the mission office to assist President Partridge-and subsequently Sister Partridge and that dog Olie. During the four months we served together we were able to see most of the countryside, meet some interesting police officers (who took us to appear before a judge once; luckily the judge was busy and we got off after paying a 25 cent fine), and learn the best supermarkets for buying dog food.

We spent much of our companionship driving around the country at 140-160 km/hour in the mission president’s car (we didn’t know that translates to 95-100mph, it was just comfortable) surveying the church’s humanitarian efforts. During our many trips to orphanages, hospitals, and mental institutions we were able to learn a great deal about how the Lord’s church helps provide for the temporal needs of people as well as the spiritual needs. We met great people who worked hard to do the best with what they had, and extremely bitter people who always wanted something more, or different. Elder Hill was able to develop a love for the people who worked so hard. I simply saw the bitter ones. Elder Hill was always an optimist.

Of course there were many humorous incidents. On one occasion, Elder Hill didn’t have any clean pants, so I lent him mine. I quickly learned why he didn’t have any clean pants. After one of our visits, the director gave us chocolates filled with alcohol. We quietly put them aside and left. I threw mine away when out of sight. Elder Hill forgot that he had put his in his pocket until we were driving down the road and it burst, leaving a gooey mess of chocolate with a lovely scent of alcohol running down his leg, and my pants.

When I think of Elder Hill, I think of the missionary who was always concerned for everyone’s health. After the mission nurse left (and before she came back) Elder Hill’s EMT training made him the most qualified missionary to fix up missionaries after fights and other such extracurricular BSM activities. I think of the missionary who was so musically inclined that he got me (despite my paranoia about my poor voice) to record myself singing a song to a friend at home (my mother nearly cried when she heard I actually sang, let alone recorded myself doing it). I think of the computer whiz who crashed President Partridge’s computer and spent weeks trying to fix it.

When I think of the man Ritchie Hill, I think of a patient man who I never saw angry or upset. I think of a man who touched many lives. He touched the Bulgarian people with his service and teaching. He touched my mother’s life by convincing me to sing. He continues to touch lives in his new state of existence. I now live in Arizona and was unable to return for Ritchie’s services. My sister, who is extremely inactive, went to the graveside service in my place. She told me repeatedly about the peace that was there. My mother told me how moved my sister was at the spirit that existed. It takes a blow from a sledgehammer to make my sister feel anything, but even now, Ritchie could help her feel the spirit by allowing her to see the family he helped create and the peace they received from the gospel.

I have been asked a million times why, if there is a God, does He allow such pain to exist in our lives. I’ve learned that he allows pain to make us rely on the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. He has felt all our emotion, pain, and fear. We can place the burden on his shoulders. It is a gift. And when the time comes, we will see Ritchie again. Ritchie is still touching my life by teaching me lessons, too. “‘Till we meet at Jesus’ feet…”

Joyce Brinton Anderson, mission friend
Elder Hill lived life well, laughed much, cared, worked hard, and loved all who were near him. When I first came to Bulgaria, in June of 1995, we became fast friends. He played the piano and I conducted the music for church services. We always had a good laugh that some of the hymn translations didn’t quite fit the music. One Sunday in particular the Sunday School President wasn’t there so we chose different hymns to sing (he always chose the same 3 songs to sing). We also decided that we were going to sing the hymns faster than the members usually sang them. After the meeting was over several members came to complain that if we were going to pick different songs, at least we could have the courtesy to play them slower. We were baffled, but again had a great laugh about it.

Elder Hill had an incredible talent for making Bulgarian food taste like home. This came in especially handy on Thanksgiving 1995, when 16 hungry missionaries were craving pumpkin pie and turkey. He figured out how to do both on a limited budget and with no oven. Elder Hill also found a market that sold pinto beans. He figured out how to make them into refried beans. The next p-day, he and Elder Stewart, who knew the fine art of tortilla making, invited everyone in the zone to their house for a burrito themed emergency “zone conference”.

In the summer of 1996, Ritchie and I participated in a humanitarian need survey for the Church. We drove all over Bulgaria, stopping in at orphanages and old-folks homes asking them what they needed, and making the arrangements to have the items there by the winter. The Bulgarian press, ever suspicious of Western religious groups, wrote about our visits in the paper. We were described as CIA operatives, making $2500 a month with bonuses for as many Bulgarian children we could get to take their lives. When he showed me the article we had a good chuckle, and I asked him where my back salary was.

That same trip we spent a lot of time talking. He told me about his family, Idaho, having brothers. We listed to “The Living Seas” by Sting and his brother Justin’s tape of songs (which were amazing!!). I still remember a beautiful, pristine mountain lake we drove by on that trip. It was what I imagine Swan Lake would have been like. Sister Partridge, our mission President’s wife insisted that we stop and take a picture. Elder Hill obliged. When he stopped the car, however, he forgot to put on the parking break. I couldn’t figure out why the car was rolling forward while I was trying to get out. He told me to pull the break. Having never driven a standard transmission, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I thought the break was what you pushed on when you wanted to stop. Finally, and just before the car rolled off into Swan Lake, he came over, jumped in and pulled break.

Recently as Ritchie and Stacey kept all of us abreast of Ritchie’s condition he wrote me an email. This is what he said: “Joyce – Thank you for being such a kind wonderful friend to me on the mission. I think many of the Sister missionaries didn’t like me for one reason or another, I was a little too hung-up on rules and this or that to really understand what you were all trying to do. You were always so friendly to me. I hope your husband recognizes how truly kind you are and returns it with all the love in the world.” To me to not be Ritchie’s friend would have been regrettable. Kindness begets kindness, and Ritchie was full of kindness. I’m really thankful for his friendship. He was always the person to ask about language quandaries and always had the best spiritual insights.

In Bulgaria when a dear friend leaves we sing the hymn “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” Since my mission this hymn has always been very sentimental for me. In fact, many times I can’t even get through it without tears. Since Ritchie’s death, it has held even more meaning for me. I’ve realized even more the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, as I know it was important to Ritchie, Stacey and the entire Hill family. I also realized, perhaps more acutely than ever before that the Gospel is the great unifier in our lives. I had the great privilege of serving with Ritchie and the other great missionaries of the Bulgaria Sofia Mission because of our love of Jesus Christ and our desire to serve him and teach our brothers and sisters about him and his wonderful plan. These are things I know Ritchie truly believed in and knew with all of his heart. I feel so blessed to have known him, heard him bear his testimony in Bulgarian and in English.

“God be with you till we meet again; by his counsels guide, uphold you; with his sheep securely fold you. God be with you till we meet again. Till we meet, at Jesus’ feet, God be with you till we meet again.”

Till we meet Ritchie. We’ll miss you.

Renee Hill, aunt
It was 22 years ago when I first met a very young Ritchie, (when I was fortunate enough to marry into the Hill family). He ALWAYS had a big grin and a ready laugh, and was ready for anything. I don’t think any challenge sounded too hard for Ritchie–it only sounded fun. My favorite story is when Ritchie went kayaking with his Dad. Ritchie loved EVERYTHING about the trip–Brent only loved ONE thing about the trip, and that was watching his son have so much fun. That is a pretty special gift from a father.

I was so envious of a painting in their home of their boys pulling a wagon. I thought it captured Ritchie so well. We have enjoyed many holidays and camping trips with Ritchie livening up whatever the activity was. Our oldest son, Austin was very interested in computers and spent hours watching his Dad (Brian) and asking hundreds of questions. There came a time when Austin began to excel in his computer expertise on his own and amaze even his Dad. It was some time later before we discovered that Austin had been secretly e-mailing and corresponding with his older cousin, Ritchie for expert advice! Austin watched carefully as Ritchie served a mission and then married and started his career in the computer field. He watched him with great interest wondering if that would be the path he too would take in his career.

Ritchie influenced me with his optimistic personality, love of his family, and his patience in sharing his talents.

Todd Johnson, friend and co-worker
Ritchie and I started working at Micron about the same time. I believed he started the week before I did. At that time I found him to be a genuinely nice person. I remember him approaching me on the test floor, while we were both waiting for some process on the test equipment to complete, just to make small talk even though he didn’t know me that well. As my career at Micron continued, Ritchie and his friends would occasionally at lunch sit with my friends and me. I always enjoyed these discussions about various topics. I especially appreciated Ritchie’s sense of humor.

When word was out that my wife and I were buying a house and the location thereof, Ritchie let me know that he lived in New York Landing, a subdivision less than a mile away. After finding out which church building my new ward met in and what time, I attended my first Sunday. I had to go alone because my wife and son were out of town. The first person I met was the executive secretary and he told me he lived in New York Landing. I was excited; ‘Cool Ritchie Hill is in this ward’! The Executive Secretary laughed and said ‘yes he is but I’ve never heard anybody call him Ritchie before’. During priesthood the executive Secretary saw me and look over at a man in fifties ‘Hey Richard this is Todd he’s new in the ward and says he knows you’. Although Richard Hill was a nice man and helped fellowship me that day, I was disappointed that Ritchie was not in my ward. Monday, I told Ritchie of this experience, he laughed a told me not only was he in a different ward, he was in a different stake. I was doubly disappointed.

I became more acquainted with Ritchie through a mutual friend Mark Mason. I noticed on most workdays that Ritchie and Mark took an afternoon break. I asked Ritchie about these breaks and he told it was a ‘reading break’. After telling Ritchie that I liked to read, he invited me to bring a book and join them. These breaks were sometime for reading other times we would just to sit and talk and there was a phase when we would solve logic puzzles (well Ritchie and Mark solved them). The first break we took, Ritchie was reading a book on pirates. Pirates always fascinated Ritchie; one of his backyard parties had a pirate theme and he really liked the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

Being part of this break group lead to other things: we started carpooling to work, we would occasionally go out to eat lunch, and we always invited each other to family birthday parties. I remember Stacey held a Pampered Chef party at my house and I had just bought a surround sound stereo system. Ritchie and Mark took my system setup apart because I hadn’t hooked it up properly and they informed me I still needed to purchase some cables get true surround sound. Ritchie was always wealth of information on technology and he even took time on a Saturday to teach our ward about video editing.

There was also the occasional Thursday night late movie that Ritchie, Mark, and I would attend. The movie was always at the cheap theater and was usually a silly comedy that we knew our wives would never desire to see. There were also the joke emails at work and it made my day if I ever sent an email to which Ritchie replied ‘that one made me laugh out loud in my cube’. Here is an example of an email I sent and shows Ritchie’s sense of humor in his reply (Jan 22, 2004).

Excerpt from my email:
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s biggest-selling hiking magazine apologized Wednesday after its latest issue contained a route that would lead climbers off the edge of a cliff on Britain’s tallest peak…

Ritchie’s reply:
Read with Scottish accent:

“Well Hagar, we are atop this incredibly high mountain that has claimed the lives of several other climbers, stuck in terrible weather which we knew would come, what do we do now?”

“Well Wallace, fortunately I have my new Nextel phone with Internet connectivity which allows me to connect to Trail magazines website and fine the safest way down the mountain. But first, let’s have another round of this lovely frozen Scottish beer. Now, it says here to turn lleeeeeeeeeeefffffffffffffttttttttttt . . . Splat!”

“Hagar? Hagar? Could you toss your remaining beer back up here?”

Okay, so I had to take A LOT of pain killer this morning.

I remember going home the day it was made known that Ritchie had cancer. My wife could tell I was upset about something and when I attempted to tell her I broke down and cried. The following days at work Ritchie stated that he had prayed about it and he didn’t feel that it was his time to go. A common phase in my family prayers was ‘help Allie’s dad overcome his cancer’. We always said ‘Allie’s dad’ so that my son Boden knew whom we were praying about and he would always scramble the phrase to be ‘help Allie’s dad come over his cancer’. I borrowed from Ritchie’s faith from day to day as his condition caused his body to deteriorate. It was tough watching this deterioration from day to day but his character and sense of humor never deteriorated. I know he probably had depressing days but I never once heard him complain of his situation. I always thought he was going to beat the cancer; even of February 23rd, 2004 when I heard he was in the hospital and probably would not last the day, I was expecting a miracle to happen.

I was so lucky to be able to talk to Ritchie a week before he passed away. My youngest son Taesh was in the hospital with RSV and my wife was staying with him round the clock. On Sunday February 15th, 2004, Stacey just happened to see me as I was walking through the hospital parking lot to bring my wife breakfast and a change of clothes. She told me Ritchie was in the hospital getting an IV for antibiotics and was on the same floor as my son. The first attempt to visit him, I found him sleeping. My next visit he was awake and I talked with him for about 15 minutes. The last thing we talked about was me asking his advice on purchasing a video camera. It is an insight to his character when I found out later from Stacey that he felt bad because he couldn’t have more lively conversation with me due to his shortness of breath.

I really miss Ritchie and regret the times that I was invited to do things with his family and I was unable to join them. It was real pleasure and blessing to know Ritchie and I know through God’s plan that I will be able to see my friend Ritchie again.

Karla Nye, cousin
Nothing stands out in my memory more than the fact that Ritchie was always smiling and happy. I had him in a Missionary Prep class at 7am in the morning for the very dedicated few of us who chose that early hour. Ritchie was always there with a smile and enjoyed life.

Bric Rogers, friend and co-worker
Ritchie was one of the most honest and sincerely nice men that I have ever had the honor to associate with. I’ll always remember the discussions we would have over lunch – anything from movies to computers to gospel topics (where he was impressively educated and made his strong testimony apparent). I am certainly a better father and husband due to my friendship with Ritchie and will miss him dearly.

Dale L. Muhlestein, friend and co-worker
Ritchie started in the SDRAM group about the same time I did and we were assigned the same cubical to work in. We were cube mates for about two years. I was sixty years old at that time and just starting a new job in the engineering software group. Ritchie was very patient with me as I asked him many questions about what my new job entailed. I was an old “C” student and Ritchie was a young “A” student. He would take hours of his time to explain things to me. He never acted like I was bothering him. All the time I worked with him I never heard him say anything bad about anybody.

I know he worshiped his Wife and Kids because he always talked about them and showed me pictures of them when ever they went anywhere and did something new. I thought that I knew each member of his family personally because he shared many little things about each one with me each day.

I ate lunch with him almost every day and we would talk about a wide verity of things in great detail. He loved astronomy, religion, missionary work, movies, politics, anything about computers, photography, books. He got me reading the Harry Potter series, which I loved. He loved his mom and dad and talked about the great things they did when he was growing up.

After being cube mates for about two and half years Ritchie was moved out of my cube. I felt like my best friend had moved away. I actually had tears in my eyes the first day he was gone. I was very lonely and I felt that I need his help and now he wasn’t around anymore. Being without him hurt for several weeks. He would come back and visit me many times a week after I told him how it felt not having him in my cube with me.

Ritchie could produce 5 times the work that any other engineer could. I remember things that I had learned over my 60 years that he picked up in minutes. It was an honor to know and love Ritchie. He introduced all of his friends to me and they soon became my friends also. He loved everybody and they loved him. He was alive and moving very fast through life and loving every minute of it. He was all over everything here at work and I loved being around him and sharing in his fun life.

I tried several times to get him to talk about going to the other side of the vale, but he wouldn’t talk about it, because he wasn’t going to die yet. I wanted to share my near death experience with him and help him understand how sweet the next live is. I had spent many years in Family History and Extraction and had had may beautiful experiences, but he didn’t want to hear about death yet. He probably knew more than I did about life after death.

It was a blessing in my life to have worked with him and to know him for a few short years. I will always remember and love him.

Jeff Lindgren, brother-in-law of Ritchie’s brother (Justin)
I remember when my wife Jenny and I were living in Page, Arizona. My mom, dad, sister (Wendy) and Justin came and stayed with us on vacation. We took a drive up on top of the Kaibab Plateau to visit Jacob Lake where Wendy and Justin used to work for a summer job.

I guess Ritchie was working there at the time for a summer job, as we met up with him and went to the porch of the old USFS ranger’s station overlooking Jacob Lake for lunch. He was a newly returned missionary from Bulgaria and liked to make reference to his mission and speaking English again. This was the first sibling of my soon-to-be brother-in-law Justin that I met. He reminded me of how I felt returning from a foreign country & language mission, and I understood how he felt about being a missionary for the gospel and serving others.

I appreciate the opportunity to remember a great person with you.

Jeff Hopkin, friend
Composed by Jeff Hopkin on February 23, 2004, as I reflected on the passing earlier that day of Ritchie Hill. Written for his dear family, our friends.

Laurels of Light

Rank upon rank, row after row, the glorious spectators
Sit mute, united in hushed anticipation in a stadium
Without end or rim.
The fans here reflect in equal measure of excitement
The depth of pain and loss felt by another large and subdued crowd
In another sphere.

Straining moistened eyes, the latter gaze through
A glass darkly for sight of a lone runner
Now passed from view,
Their only real vision now that of their broken yet
Hopeful hearts.

Each runner heeds his own starter,
Each is handicapped per Divine Design,
More stones to some and less for others,
As if each had a personal Trainer . . .

And even some gifted runners, auspiciously started on Marathon’s plain,
Still never reach Athen’s gate.
The finish tape for each man’s race is his alone to break,
And it may be just around the next bend,
Urging each to run well while he can.

Abruptly the runner appears anew, now through the tunnel
Into the sudden brightness,
No longer encumbered by the weights
Of pain, anguish, uncertain hope, or fear!

At the sight, the crowd rises as one,
Their cheers of joy mounting, echoing,
Reverberating from stadium walls and mountains beyond.
Heart and soul already proved,
The runner stretches out with legs and lungs now suddenly new,
And smiles with his flight.

Knowledge restored, suffering sanctified, Eternal eyes
Now seeing and knowing all in all.
Victory lap complete, the runner’s race is accepted.
Another Olympian comes home,
Crowned now with glory and laurels of light.

Sherise Slaugh Penry, cousin
One of my first memories of Ritchie was of him singing a song with his dad, Brent. I believe each of the boys sang the song with their dad at various times. However this time it was Ritchie who sang it. The song talks about the dad being upset at the lawn being ruined by the various antics of a young boy. The boy answers saying that the grass will come back and sings the words, “It will come back, It will come back, Daddy don’t be sad. God and the rain will bring it back.”

The song was written to remind us how quickly life passes.

When I think of Ritchie, I think of his smile.

Melissa Durtschi, friend
I remember just after Ritchie had his wisdom teeth taken out, Stacey, Amy, and I went to his house to “kidnap” him. We wanted to get him out of the house and had hopes to cheer him up. Amy borrowed her parents suburban and we all went to the mall in Idaho Falls. For most of the way there, the talk was about The Beatles. When we got to the mall, the rest of us were eating pizza and pretzels. Ritchie had to settle for an Orange Julius. He was so swollen and his speech was a little slurred, but he was still cracking jokes and we had a really good time.

I also wanted to mention another important memory to me. I was having a difficult time at Ricks. I remember thinking how a priesthood blessing might help and Ritchie was the first name that came to mind. I asked and of course he agreed. He invited me up to his house and he seemed so excited for the opportunity. A few close friends were there and we went into the room just off the front door. I don’t remember what was said, or even what my dilemma was about. But I do remember how I felt. I will never forget how I felt. I will never forget how important Ritchie made me feel. May we all strive to live as he did. Fully, completely, and with the spirit. Thank you Ritchie!!!

Damon Benedict, friend
One of the many memorable experiences I had with Ritchie occurred while driving down mainstreet Rexburg in his father’s black beretta. We were talking about something and as we approached a stop light we barely touched the car in front of us — giving them a gentle nudge. I remember Ritchie’s face went completely pale. The next thing we know, a very large man exits the vehicle in front and unleashes a battery of what I like to call “sailor speak.” He just lets Ritchie have it. We get out of the car and there is not a scratch on either automobile. Meanwhile, Ritchie is beside himself — continually apologizing for the incident. Soon after, the would-be drill sergeant gets back into his car and drives away. As Ritchie and I re-enter the car he turns to me and says, “I should have taken him out.” Ritchie had a great sense of humor. He is missed.

Amy Carter, friend
I have too many memories of Ritchie to write. They all involve Stacey! I always thought Ritchie was a knight in shining armor. One Halloween in High School Ritchie, Stacey, and their best friends went to the Haunted Forest. Ritchie was obviously trying to be big and brave and protect Stacey, well I didn’t have a guy to hang on to and I was petrified so he let my hold onto his arm as well. Well a big scary guy in the forest came and picked up Stacey and ran off with her. Ritchie started running after her but I was on his arm screaming and it was dark. Next thing I know he’s run into a low hanging log and fell flat on his back. I felt so sorry for him but we got a good laugh out of it later. I think the world of Ritchie! He always treated people with the utmost respect and always made you feel like he was your best friend. I’m so grateful that we know where he is and that he is at peace and that we can see him again. He will be missed until then!

Jessica Day George, friend
I always remember Ritchie’s smile. If I was ever having a bad day at school, running into Ritchie in the halls would always make it better. Ritchie’s smile lit up his face like a pinball machine: big grin, sparkling eyes, dimples, the works. He always had a smile for me, and everyone he met, always went out of his way to say ‘hi’ and ask how a person was doing. And he always listened to your answer, too!

I especially remember going to a concert in Park City with a bunch of friends. Ritchie and Stacey were dating at the time, and I remember being so jealous of them! They were sitting on the side of the hill, Ritchie had his arms around Stacey because it was colder than we were prepared for, and he was apologizing to her because the opening act was so bad. I was jealous because my date was neither that chivalrous nor that much fun.

I was so happy for Stacey when they got married. Marrying your high school sweetheart . . . how much better does it get?! And marrying such a doll, too!

I want Ritchie’s family to know that he was such a wonderful person, and my heart just goes out to them. He will be truly missed. But I know that one day we’ll all get to see that great smile again, and hear that cheerful voice say, “Hey! How’s it going?”

Rachel Taylor, cousin
My favorite memories of Ritchie were back when we were kids. He was always one of my favorite cousins because he always knew how to make me laugh, and never hesitated to include me in anything. I am told that even as a little little kid I always talked about Ritchie, however I called him “Chitchie.” My very first plane trip was to Delaware and Ritchie was the lucky one that got to accompany me. I was only 9 years old at the time, and Ritchie was a brave 13. I was scared to death to fly, but I was constantly reminded that if Ritchie wasn’t scared I shouldn’t be either. That summer we had a great time going to the pool, getting ice cream from the ice cream man, playing Sardines at night, and catching fireflies amongst other things. There is never a bad memory when Ritchie is involved, he was a great cousin and he will be missed.

Burt & Jacquie Harwood, friends
We met Ritchie & Stacey at ‘Dukes’, a Seattle waterfront restaurant. They had just come from ‘The Hutch’, Fred C. Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Their table was next to ours and their adorable little one attracted our attention. The conversation centered around why they were in Seattle. We went home happy to have met a very humble young gentleman and his family. All of his friends and relatives have been Ritchly blessed to have known Ritchie.


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