AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dr. David Ritchie served on the Austintown School Board for 52 years, more than any other school board member in Ohio. He ran again in November and lost, which meant Tuesday night’s school board meeting was his last.
The meeting started 10 minutes late to allow Dr. Ritchie time to greet some of the 60 people who showed up for his last meeting.
“Just with 12 board meetings a month over that 52 years, you’re talking about 624 board meetings,” said fellow board member Harold Porter.
Porter had Dr. Ritchie’s statistics, one of which was watching about 24,000 students graduate.
Board member Kathy Mock called him a mentor.
“Dr. Ritchie, your wry sense of humor, your patience in the face of panic and your incredible depth of public education knowledge will be missed,” she said.
There were proclamations from Senator Sherrod Brown, Congressman Tim Ryan, Governor Mike DeWine and State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan.
Austintown resident and Mahoning County commissioner Dave Ditzler personally delivered the commissioners’ proclamation.
“I can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done for our community, for Austintown, for our Valley,” he said.
Austintown trustee Jim Davis also hand-delivered the trustees’ proclamation.
“That speaks a lot, and speaks volumes of what this community thought of you to give you that trust for that many years,” he said.
“For the most part, it’s really been great. I know I will miss it,” Dr. Ritchie said.
After serving 52 years, Dr. Ritchie spoke for just three and a half minutes. He had his family stand to thank them and also urged Austintown to support the school board.
“Just get behind them and support them. Don’t always go out and stab them in the back, as we’ve had at times,” Dr. Ritchie said. “It’s been great, everybody has been great. Fifty-two years. I really appreciate it. Thank you.”
His speech concluded with a standing ovation.
After the meeting, Dr. Ritchie said the recognition he was given Tuesday night amazed him and that it was very much appreciated.