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Obituary: Robert R. Ritchie, led police arson squad, dies at 78

March 11, 2001
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Obituary: Robert R. Ritchie, led police arson squad, dies at 78

The Buffalo News The Buffalo

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Retired Detective Sgt. Robert R. Ritchie of the Buffalo Police Department, who headed the Arson and Bomb Squad for 20 years, died Wednesday (March 7, 2001) after a brief illness. He was 78.

Ritchie was chief arson investigator when he retired in 1983. He was a firefighter for seven years before becoming a policeman in 1953 and continued as a lecturer at the Erie County Fire Academy until the late 1970s. He also taught courses for the FBI and spoke at law enforcement conferences.

Born in Chicago, Ritchie served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a platoon leader in central Burma, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

Ritchie had been a patrolman at the Cold Spring Station for just six months when he captured, while off duty, a bandit who held up the main office of M&T Bank. The arrest solved an earlier bank robbery and gained Ritchie a promotion to detective.

In January 1972, Ritchie disarmed a homemade bomb that had been placed in the Donovan State Office Building after an earlier bomb exploded in the Main Street building.

In November 1972, Ritchie gingerly carried a 10-inch pipe bomb away from a campus building that had once housed the U.S. Navy's controversial Project Themis at the University at Buffalo. Another bomb went off and damaged the outside of the building, which had first become a target of radical protesters against the Vietnam War in 1969.

Ritchie was a member of the Police Benevolent Association and a past president of the Squires Social Club. An usher at Holy Angels Catholic Church, he was a member of the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, the former Angeline J. Valvo; five daughters, Joanne Boris of Orchard Park, Barbara Jamesson of Worthington, Ohio, Carolyn Smith of Rosemont, Minn., and Lisa Ritchie and Jackie Ritchie, both of Amherst; two sisters, Helen Verich of Arizona and Betty Miller of Buffalo; a brother, Charles of Buffalo; and five grandchildren.

Prayers will be said at 8:45 a.m. Monday in Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 in Holy Angels Church, 348 Porter Ave. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga. (Cardinale).

March 9, 2001, Friday, Final Edition Copyright 2001

Full story: Obituary: Robert R. Ritchie, led police arson squad, dies at 78

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