Our thoughts are with the family of Unshelved Book Club reviewer, retired librarian, and super awesome human being Dan Ritchie, who passed away unexpectedly last week. Frankly, we just can't believe he's gone -- he was healthy and vibrant, and a bunch of us got together just a few weeks ago.
What many of you may not realize is that our reviewers are friends of ours, the people Bill and I love to talk about books with. I met Dan at WashYARG where his exuberance, kindness, and his athletic calves won me over. (The man wore shorts no matter what the weather.)
He loved books by Pete Hautman and Lisa Mcmann, and anything about survival or baseball. I'm going to remember Dan by reading The Natural, enjoying a few beers, and building a snowman while wearing shorts.
Dan was my librarian in junior high, and was still at the same school when I came back as the local public librarian to talk about books. He brought out the yearbook I was in to show the staff on one of my first visits. I was honored to get to work with him as a peer. He had huge empathy for the students he worked with and it showed in how he talked about books. I could absolutely trust his gut take on a book, no matter what genre. He knew what teens wanted to read. He continued to be active in the warm family of teen, middle school, and high school librarians even after his retirement, taking on responsibilities that kept our community going.
And I'll never forget his laugh. We're all lucky to have had him in our lives. Let's pay that forward for him.
Dan was a happy person, whether he was persuading middle school kids to read another fantastic book he'd found, or enjoying his well-deserved retirement. I didn't know him well, but whenever we chatted, we both ended up laughing. I will miss seeing him at WashYARG and reading his reviews, and hearing his generous laughter.
I was always proud to be a colleague of Dan's. He was knowledgeable about books, cared about kids, and possessed a great sense of humor and a booming laugh. Dan served as treasurer for WashYARG for as long as I can remember, and I will miss him greatly at the meetings and post-meeting lunches where we used to see each other. And hundreds of librarians from around the state will miss his succinct accounting and gentle reminders to get their dues in.
For those who would like to honor Dan's memory, please consider contributing to one of these causes which he was so passionate about:
Kirkland Middle School
This is the school where Dan ran the library for so long, and from which he retired just a few years ago.
To help purchase books in Dan's name, checks should be made out to Kirkland Middle School (please note "For Dan's books") and sent to:
Kirkland Middle School
Attention: Richard Snyder, Librarian
430 18th Ave
Kirkland, WA 98033