Oscar Ritz was a hard-working, honest man who prided himself in serving the community and taking care of his family, said his daughter, Janice Ritz.
Oscar Ritz, 93, of Crown Point and formerly of Merrillville and Indianapolis, died May 5. He worked many years in the insurance business, and served as Indiana state insurance commissioner.
He is survived by Audrey Ritz, his wife of 70 years. The couple met when he went into Handley’s Drug Store to buy an alarm clock and she was working behind the counter.
He purchased the clock for $1, she said. The clock remains in the family, and was joined by a silver clock for their 25th anniversary and a gold clock for their 50th.
The couple was one of the early families to move into Merrillville, and the family built their home on the property in the early 1950s.
“He declared he would build the house himself,” Janice Ritz said. “He would work all day and, in the evenings, we would go to the house. He and Mom would put shingles on while my sister and I entertained ourselves.”
Ritz believed in community service, and was involved in many groups around Gary. He also had been the Republican chairman of south Lake County.
“He was very civic-minded and felt a responsibility to serve his community,” Janice Ritz said.
Oscar Ritz was an avid gardener, and was especially proud of his zinnias.
Janice Ritz said her parents traveled extensively, and went to numerous conventions associated with his work. A favorite family trip came in the summer of 1959, months after her father won a Thunderbird from a Gary car dealership.
“My parents, sister and I piled into the Thunderbird, and it took us out to California and back,” she said.
Janice Ritz said her father remained in good health and had full mental capacity until a few months before he passed away.
“He lived a full life and still read the Wall Street Journal every day,” she said. “He had an excellent memory, and could remember details from conventions he had been to years ago and restaurants they had visited.”