Ralph E. Nitz, 66, of Springfield, IL, died on the morning of Thursday, March 10, 2011, as a result of heart complications. He was born on August 23, 1944, in Portland, OR to the late Reverend Carl and Edna Hoefener Nitz. He married Judy Gunderman on July 30, 1966, and she preceded him in death on August 30, 1999. He is also preceded in death by two brothers, Reverend Wilford and Ted Nitz.
Ralph is survived by his son, Todd (Angie) Nitz of Dallas, TX; one daughter, Julie (Reverend Derek) Riddle of Delavan, IL; five much-loved grandchildren; two brothers, Carl (Joyce) Nitz of Portland, OR and Reverend Ronald (Jackie) Nitz of Seward, AK; one sister, Naomi Maasberg of Portland, OR; one sister in law, Judy Nitz of LaGrand, OR; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Ralph is best known as the long-time principal of Lutheran High School in Springfield, which he helped start in 1979. At the high school, Ralph could be found not only working at his well-organized desk or giving a Powerpoint presentation in the classroom, but pretty much anywhere around the campus. You might come across him whistling softly to himself as he repaired a wall or re-wired a light switch. At any moment he might zoom around the corner on his favorite lawnmower or in his new golf cart, sometimes with his little dog, Myrrhy, by his side. You could hear him coming down a hallway, keys jingling and deep voice resonating. Of course, his life wasn’t entirely spent at the school; on a summer evening you would probably find him with his feet up, enjoying a Cardinals game, or maybe backstage at the Muni.
After retiring in 2007, Ralph found great joy in continuing to repair buildings and teach minds at LuHi. He also relished the extra time retirement provided to tinker in his beloved workshop, teach Sunday morning Bible class, orchestrate Thrivent meetings, make cookies with his grandchildren, and insult people.
While his departure from this world will be grieved by many who loved him, we rejoice that Ralph is now having a grand time getting settled into heaven. Because of his living faith in Jesus, who lived and died and rose from the dead to make us His brothers and sisters, we can now with full confidence picture Ralph greeting his Judy with a long-awaited hug, shaking hands with Martin Luther and asking Noah where he could get his hands on a hammer and some gopher wood, and booming along with the angel choir, leading them in a rousing rendition of the Common Doxology. In the midst of sorrow, we have this great reassurance. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Visitation: 4-7 p.m. Monday, March 14, 2011, at Staab Funeral Home.
Lie-in-State: 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at Concordia Lutheran Church.
Funeral Service: 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at Concordia Lutheran Church with Rev. James Hennig officiating. Interment will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Memorial Contributions may be made to Lutheran High School or Concordia Lutheran Church.