Eulogy of Gisela Steinhoff Ritchie
I thought long and hard about the content of a eulogy for my beloved Gisela and who would give it. After reading all the contributions to Gisela’s Celebration of Life, I realized nobody could eulogize Gisela better than the contributions made by family, friends, and friends of our children. So, that’s it for my eulogy…please read and enjoy the numerous memories.
Memories from Paul Ritchie
The picture below struck a chord in my heart when I saw it, I think because it captured so many of Gisela’s qualities. Here she is, dressed to the hilt and looking good in spite of the oxygen tubing and wig hiding her chemo bald head, totally engrossed and loving every minute while she and granddaughter Avalon mutually work a Sudoku puzzle.
A fond memory - Gisela and I knew each other for close to 50 years so I have lots and lots of memories…but one has stood out in my mind all this time and perhaps embodies what I loved about her, what caused me to ask for her hand in marriage, and love her for ever so long.
Before we were married while we were casually dating, John-John, my roommate, and I became acquainted with a group of friends, one of whom owned a water ski boat; so we started water skiing. I loved water skiing and there was little else I wanted to do as much. I asked several girls to go water skiing and, except for Gisela, I got surprisingly negative responses. Many of the responses simply blew my mind, like “Oh, my hair will get messed up”, “It will be too hot for me”, and “The water will be too cold”. What was the matter with these chicks? Then I asked Gisela and the response was delightful and exactly what I wanted to hear: “Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun! Sure I’ll go”.
The water at Lake Elsinore was quite cold at that time of year and, worse yet, the wind came up and the lake surface was pretty rough. At this stage of her life, Gisela was pretty thin and bony, plus she had naturally curly hair that kinked up tight to her head when wet. When it came her turn to ski, for the first time on two skis, she made all the beginner mistakes as expected. Every time she dumped, we all gave her tips and encouragement as we circled the boat back. When her lips turned blue and she was shaking, I tried to persuade her to quit, get back into the boat and try again next time we went out. To my surprise, she would have nothing to do with this. She kept saying: “No, one more time.” After several more attempts she finally got up and was skiing…shaking and with no form naturally…but she was up. After getting up and skiing, she finally quit.
When I pulled her aboard, she was totally exhausted and shaking with the cold…but happy.
I remember being very impressed. What a fighter! I thought: “This chick simply did not quit and didn’t care how she looked while trying something new and adventurous.” Plus she had fun doing it.. and I had fun watching her and being with her. In fact, I was quite proud of her in front of the other guys in the group. What an amazing girl! I think this event sticks in my mind like it was yesterday because it embodies many of the qualities that made me fall in love with and marry this amazing girl.
Colin Ritchie (son)
It's hard to think about an anecdote for Mom because she's Mom.. she's always been there. There is no "when I first met her". There is no "what's unusual about my mom" because she is my definition of normal. All the other kids’ moms were the weird ones. They didn't go camping, they wore inelegant clothing, they were catty and unsupportive of their spouses, and they were boring and not so bright. Not at all normal, like my mom - adventurous, elegant, dedicated and supportive wife, engaging, and smart. see more ››
Aurora (Rori) Rincon Ritchie (daughter-in-law)
I know that Gisela loved her grandkids with a passion.
When our first child was born (Avalon) on Nov. 5, 2003 there were a limited few that spent time with her. Grammy loved Avalon the minute she laid eyes on her. She wanted to see her every chance she got and to spend time with the little princess.
Avalon has always had a special connection with Grammy that will never be forgotten. see more ››
Robin Ritchie Barton (daughter)
Mom blessed me in many ways that I had just considered "normal" but have gradually discovered that were not. I always knew that I was greatly loved by her and, as an adult, I now see what a great gift that was. Not only did she love me intensely, but she included without question anyone who was in my circle of friends. This was always precious to me, as I knew that I "had it good" at home. I also had not realized that my love of being a girl yet not always having to be "girly" probably came from modeling after her, as well as from the encouragement of my dad (if you don't know me, I'm outdoorsy, take martial arts, get very dirty in the garden, but still like to dress up; sound familiar?). Much of my childhood relationship with her is a blur, but I have since pinpointed many things that she taught me... see more ››
Colleen Maughan Porter (Robin's friend)
I remember late nights baking cookies and laughing with Mom and I will always remember how loved I was.
Judy Orput (Paul's sister)
I have given much thought about what to write as a tribute to Gisela. Of course, we all know she was passionate about shopping, but there was so much more to her legacy. One of the things that was apparent to everyone who knew her was how much she loved her family. She continually created an ever more beautiful surrounding for them. An example is the passion for and creation of beautiful needlework. In all the years I knew her I seldom heard her say an unkind word about anyone which is an attribute we can all truly admire. Gisela was a beautiful person both inside and out.
Sue Lenzkes (friend)
Gisela was a very special person to know and love. She had such a way of connecting with people. She gave earnest and eager attention to each person she spoke with. I sometimes felt magnetized by her presence. She made me feel like I really mattered. You have to love a woman like that!
Lillian Book (Paul’s colleague)
When you asked about favorite memories, the vision that came immediately to mind was the two of you dressed to the nines at one of the Bi-Tech Christmas parties. Gisela just sparkled. I loved her style and how she would be all decked out and flowing. She made me smile.
Pastor George & Kathy Butler
Gisela is a simple and honest friend. Her quiet manner and love always gave us such a peace.
She is a gift from God to us, like a flower on our path.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Sherman and Kristine Gavette (friends)
Kristine and I are both very grateful that we had the opportunity to know Gisela; she was truly a kind and good person and we have fond memories of our early times together back in Tierrasanta.
Paul Melcon (Sailing club)
At sailing events, Gisela and I often chattered about crosswords, needlepoint (perhaps unlikely but still true), and family. She was always the best dressed in the fleet, and brightened the scene with her penchant for sometimes dramatic garb. I remember one day when she, impeccably dressed in a white outfit, stomped casually through the water as though she was wearing garments destined for a rummage sale. The woman had spirit, grit, and was not going to let attire get in the way of fun! I observed that she quietly bore a great burden without complaint, and was determined to ensure that every day was a delight. I admired her and keep her in my memories. see more ››
Michelle Marazzo (Sailing club)
We always enjoyed seeing Gisela when she came to sailing events with you, Paul. She always had a beautiful piece of needlework that she was working on. I remember going to a nice Mexican dinner with you guys after a Whiskeytown regatta. Gisela was a very loving person and we will all miss her.
Gisela was such a wonderful woman, always positive and always having a smile on her face even when things were bad with her health. She is such an inspiration of faith and determination to be a light for GOD!
Aarron and Ruth Lacey (friend)
One of the memories Ruth and I both love (apart from her interest in neat little knickknacks, having fun with her clothing (perfect example: those big goofy green glasses or her awesome July 4th boots), or her insatiable love for ice cream) was love for the children. The memories we will always have are much like the one you stated: Sitting on the couch at your house playing with the little stuffed animals with the kids and gushing loves and hugs to Alyssa over at our house when you both visited. We are both so blessed she was a part of our lives and our children's lives, and she will truly be missed.
Denis & Denruth Lougeay (friends)
We were next door neighbors with the Ritchies in the very early 70’s. Gisela and Paul were the best of neighbors, and all four of us were "young marrieds". Gisela was always the pensive one, and Paul was an energetic action figure.
The palm tree is an excellent example of the Ritchie’s neighborly sacrifice. It was a fall weekend and I mentioned to Paul that there was a “free” palm tree in a yard not far from us. Paul immediately said "Let's go look at it," and off we went. Because it was so large, we convinced ourselves that it was a real bargain. see more, with photo ››
Steve and Mary Randall (friends)
I think that the thing that we remember best is Gisela's smile and laugh. Gisela, you Paul, Mary and I along with our kids sure did have some great times. Do you remember when Robert broke Robin's arm at Lake Elsinore when we were camping? Gisela (and you) just loaded her up and took off to the emergency room. Mary remembers all of the times that Gisela came into the shop to get her hair done also.
Note from Robin: I remember that trip! In fact, that's the arm I'm showing off in this photo.
I also remember that Robert didn't break it. I seem to recall that I was winning the wrestling match and the other kids jumped in to help him! ;-)
Todd and Robyn Saylor (friends)
We’ve only had a few occasions to spend time with Gisela but we will remember her as a kind and friendly woman. We enjoyed visiting with her at Bi-Tech picnics, sailing on the lake, and playing cards at chez Ritchie.
Gisela had a great sense of humor and was quick to laugh and share her smile. She was always happy to share stories of fond and humorous memories. When her condition progressed it did not prevent her personality and spirit from shining through.
We will remember her intelligence, her humor, and her grace.
Neal and Shirley Hawkins (friends)
When we think of Gisela, we always think of her smiling. We shared a lot of after church lunches on Sundays before you moved north. Her stitchery talent was inspiring. The many beautiful things she created were all made with such love. As the shared memories come in from those who knew her, may they bring joy and comfort to you all.
Robert Randall (friend)
My remembrances of Mrs. Ritchie (the name that I will always remember her by because of the nature of our relationship) are pretty simple and can be exemplified in a few keywords: Intelligent, Articulate, Compassionate and Peaceful. Because our families spent so much time together camping, sharing holidays and all the swim parties at my parent’s house, I was blessed to spend a significant amount of time of my youth in the presence of Mrs. Ritchie. I remember her working crossword or jigsaw puzzles, reading books and cross-stitching when we camped. I always remember that when I saw the Ritchie VW Bus or Jeep Cherokee pulling the tent trailer (usually at the turnout of Poway Road on Highway 67), I would be sure to see Mrs. Ritchie in the passenger seat smiling widely and waving. I was a particularly high strung child, and just being around Mrs. Ritchie gave me a sense of calm and peace. Her hugs were always sincere and comforting. I never heard her raise her voice in anger. Mrs. Ritchie was a wonderful person that others would do well to emulate from multiple perspectives.
Mike and Nua Shores (friends)
We have so many wonderful and fun memories of our 40+ years of friendship with Gisela and Paul. But we will try to narrow them down to just a few. One memory that I (Nua) especially have was the very special wedding shower Gisela and Kristine Gavette gave me before our December 29th wedding. They came up with the terrific idea of see more ››
John Hackney (Paul’s college roommate)
I remember the water skiing trips including the one where we stayed overnight at Lake Elsinore and a young girl in the next camp (only 14) apparently had a crush on me. So Gi helped her get all dolled up for some time with me. I think you guys were trying to get me in trouble. Anyway, we only held hands (Honest!). I also remember you guys telling Linda and I about your amorous adventure in the elevator (see how I cleaned that up). Also your story of how you two redecorated your bathroom while in the nude.
Bob and Candy Richards (friends)
We remember the very early days on Bravo Court when we were all new to new neighborhood and new neighbors. Much has changed, but the great memories of the early years will always remain. We both wish you the best of memories of a great wife, mother and grandmother – and our neighbor.
Cindy Goodwin (friend)
I was working for the Paradise Alliance church – would see Gisela coming in and unloading her car and trunk with donations for various ministries – she was so tender hearted and thoughtful with her gifts, I still have a ceramic heart hanging up at my desk that she gave me after my heart attack – she even prayed for me. I will miss her dearly, however I know she is probably really busy organizing heaven right now!!
Astrid (Steinhoff) Webster (sister)
One thing I remember about my sister was that she was tall, had naturally curly hair (sigh!) and looked regal. I was short, awkward and had hair as straight as a stick. She did wonderfully in school, I talked a lot. She got good grades, I got notices that I'd do better if I minded my own business (that's still true). She had quite a head for business and if you look at my business, you realize I that I still haven't learned much on that score.
Gisela once told our brother Riner, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Riner was a teen and may just have used the fword. He and I sometimes met in our rebellion. Gisela would naturally observe, figure things out and do the best she could within that context. see more ››
Heather (Johnson) Smith (friend)
All I have are fond memories of visits with your family. I especially loved the rabbits in the backyard in San Diego when I was young. Gisela sure loved rabbits! Wow, even my children got to see her rabbits in their Paradise home. There were several rabbits in the basement. They were even litter-trained, which was pretty cool. They let us stay over for a night on our way to Seattle one trip (even with 3 little kids). I remember she ran a tight, efficient household but always kind and welcomed people in her home. She was always thin, fit, and active. Gisela spoke her mind and loved to laugh. Somehow she seemed to balance work and mothering, and was a great role model.
Kip Winsett (friend)
As I start to write this I realize that Robin and Colin were just little kids the last time I saw Gisela - about 25 years ago! I haven’t heard her voice or had a conversation with her via computer or by mail in all that time. But I remember her face, her smile and her voice very clearly. I remember that she kept a lovely house, was a fine cook, had a good sense of humor, was a charming and thoughtful hostess and was truly easy to be around. I remember that Gisela was one of the world’s “Good People”. There aren’t enough of them and I’m glad I got to spend time with her.
Sondra Pepper (friend)
Gisela was a very dear friend of mine and we shared lots of good times together; Women's Retreats and being in the same church while our children were growing up. The major things that were so special about Gisela was her willing attitude to help, her smile and her love for God, her family and her church. She will always remain in my heart as a dear sister in Christ and a super great friend. I had the privilege of being Robin's Jr. High Sunday School teacher and her actions reflected a mother who really loved and cared for her children. Thanks for the privilege of getting to know you sis. RIP. Say Hi to Jim for me. You will be missed.
Margaret (Steinhoff) Durbin (niece)
When I turned graduated high school my parents surprised me by forcing me out on my own. It had not been part of my plan so I was a bit lost at first. The Ritchie family made me feel welcome in their home and church and gave me a foundation to start life on my own. Though we had spent little time together while I was growing up, they immediately included me in family vacations and outings. The whole family helped me through a very tough time in my life and for that I will always be grateful. I think the strong and beautiful person that Robin is, is a reflection of her wonderful mother. Gisela was always gracious, giving, and compassionate. For all of us teens she was a person we could count on to be a substitute mother when we needed one most.
Brenda Armstrong Barton (Robin's sister-in-law)
I remember Gisela as such a creative person. While I didn't get the chance to be with her much, her passion for the creative things in life were quite evident. Additionally, her life showed that she was an excellent and godly momma as shown by her wonderful children and grandchildren. She will be missed.
Pat Aderhold Barton (Robin's mother-in-law)
What always comes to mind when I think of Gisela is how wonderfully friendly she was. No one was a stranger. Never shy, she would make anyone feel as though they'd been best friends forever. And, of course, if she knew you were shopping for something, she wouldn't stop till she found it for you ;-).
A sweet and lovely woman. She will be missed.
Bill Whinnery (friend)
When I think back over all the years that I have known you and Gisela, I can't help but go back to our days while attending UCR. I remember Gi as a very intelligent, fun-loving, kind-hearted, thoughtful and caring person. I also recall what a close relationship she had with my now ex-wife, Kristy. After our time in Riverside, we kept in touch even though we were separated by many miles. I remember seeing you and Gi when I came to Los Angeles for checker training school. I also remember our going for an extremely pleasant afternoon of sailing. The highlight of those early years was of course when you and Gi asked Kristy and me to be your matron of honor and best man on your wedding day. And after my divorce, I enjoyed visiting with you and Gi in San Diego. Following those early years we were able to visit for short visits in San Diego and later when Donna and I spent a few days with you and Gi at your home in Paradise in the late 90's. Although the path of our lives has not permitted us to be in close contact because of geographic distance, you and Gi have always occupied a special place in my memories of my life.
Betty Wessman (friend)
I didn't have the pleasure of knowing her very well but I do remember her beautiful smile, and herlove for hand work.
It was really a pleasure when George and I visited you guys and we were able to see the needlework shop that she had,
and some of the things she had personally done. BEAUTIFUL!!
Sherish Marion-Box (Robin's friend)
I'm sorry for your loss, but joyful for heavens gain. Thank you,
Ms. Gisela, for coming into my life and introducing God. Your family
was the best blessing for me as a child growing up as a non-believer.