Known among students, faculty, and college staff for her kindness, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for Christian music, longtime campus custodian Nancy Ritz celebrated her retirement last week after 18 years of service.
Ritz has worked in almost every building on campus during her time at the college. Around 30 college faculty and staff attended her retirement party on Friday in the Fowler Maintenance building, and many said they are sad to see her go.
“She was always willing to go the extra mile,” Professor of Spanish Carmen Wyatt-Hayes, who attended the party, said. “She would water my plants while I was away, and make us puppy chow. One time she made a CD of Christian songs for me … She’s very kind and warm, very much cared for her work and very much cared for people.”
The party, complete with cupcakes, balloons, and a celebratory banner, was organized by custodial supervisor Kelli Blaker, who was hired in 2000, the same year as Ritz. She said the two of them have “been stuck at the hip ever since.”
“She’s a good lady,” Blaker said. “She cares about this place a lot.”
Professor of English Kelly Franklin added in an email that while Ritz was working in Delp, she “always spoiled us with baked goods, treats, and other snacks — especially around finals week.
“She was always friendly and cheerful, and we chatted a few times as she was finishing up her morning shift,” Franklin said. “She kept our facility and offices clean and inviting — which makes a huge difference (in my opinion) to our own quality of work … We’re going to miss her for sure.”
Ritz was also known as a “ray of sunshine” in McIntyre, where Ritz most recently worked, according to the dorm’s head resident assistant, junior Sara Garfinkle. Sophomore and McIntyre resident assistant Lily Erickson agreed.
“She could frequently be found doing her work with her headphones in, dancing to the music as she went,” she said in an email. “She always had such a great attitude about her work and took so much joy in it.”
Garfinkle said chatting with Nancy in the morning at the dorm was the best way to start her day.
“Her kind words stayed with me all day,” Garfinkle said in an email. “I am so grateful for her hard work, but also for her TV recommendations! She has the best taste and I never would have found The Great British Baking Show without her.”
Ritz said her favorite part of her job was “the kids,” and she often brought snacks for dorm residents during finals week. Olds House Director Linda Gravel said she would bring little muffins and mini hot dogs with sauce for the girls in Olds. One time Ritz told dorm residents she would make them lasagna if half of them signed up for the annual Student Activities Board “Color Run” — and she even participated herself.
Ritz also made dorm work fun, according to McIntyre resident assistant Sabrie Dalton.
“Before the residents came back this year, Nancy helped the East RAs figure out how to pop out the windows and force them back in. Should have been rather annoying and difficult work, but she made it much more fun.”
Another McIntyre resident assistant, sophomore Madison Rathbun, said Ritz was always smiling and would take a particular interest in how she was doing if she seemed down. Ritz would also often keep her in the loop on Christian concerts coming up in the area.
“I do remember one time she left me the cutest note,” Rathbun said. “It all started because I told her she could keep listening to music she was listening to when she came to clean my room once … we talked about a Crowder concert coming up, and she didn’t want to forget to tell me, so she followed up. I thought it was the sweetest thing.”
Monica Adams, a McIntyre custodian who worked with Ritz on the East Side, said she used to walk with Ritz every day during the summer, recounting a day when they got lost on a Hayden Park trail and had to climb over a fence to get back.
“She makes me laugh,” Adams said. “She’s just goofy.”
Now that Ritz is retired, she says she plans to relax and travel to see her family in Kentucky and Tennessee. She’s from Michigan though and said she plans to stay in the area.
“I’m happy for her,” Mauck custodian Rublea Kast said. “It’s bittersweet.”