Isaurina Ritter

April 25, 2019


Isaurina Ritter, 89, former resident of Upper Yoder and, in recent years, Blairsville, passed away on Thursday, April 25th, 2019.  Isaurina remained a private woman who endeavored to raise five children across two continents. She struggled with the conflicting worlds she knew, and could share with difficulty her inner life with those close to her; but she worked, over her years marked with hardship, to share with them wisdom, love and hope.  Her long journey from home began in 1946. Isaurina set out at the age of 16 from a farm near her hometown of Maués, near Brazil's Amazon River. From that distant outpost, she made her way downriver by boat to the Atlantic coast and boarded an ocean-going vessel south to start a new life as a coleporteur, selling religious and educational books door-to-door.  At the time, the booming city of Rio was Brazil's largest, having been its capital for hundreds of years. She described that port city, the seat of government, a center of commerce and immigration, as "overwhelming."  Isaurina enrolled in the Adventist College of São Paulo Brazil on the outskirts of the city of São Paulo, where she studied education. She wanted to become a teacher.  It was in a newer metropolis, which would become Brazil's largest city, where she would meet her future husband; Mario Ritter was studying to be a medical doctor in the city of São Paulo. Isaurina had a good voice and very much enjoyed singing in the school choir. As it turned out, both she and Mario took part in a school performance for United States President Harry S. Truman. At the time, the 33rd president was touring South America, including ally Brazil, seeking to cement ties in the region after World War II.  While she was away studying, Isaurina's father died. She lost everything and never returned home.  Isaurina and Mario were married in 1953. The births of two daughters, Selma and Clelia, followed soon after.  Her daughters remember her as a beautiful, petit woman with an infectious smile.  Mario moved the family to North Carolina through an academic fellowship in 1959, for a two-year sojourn in the United States before returning to Brazil to practice medicine. This was Isaurina's first taste of American life. Upon returning to Brazil, Isaurina received her teaching degree in 1963, a feat accomplished with three children and one on the way.  The first travels to the U.S. with her family were only the beginning. She and Mario would move to Glendale, California with their two daughters and two sons, Myron and Rhomes, to start a new life in the United States.  In 1968, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, with a fifth child about to be born. There, Mario completed a residency in clinical pathology. The family moved to the Johnstown area of Western Pennsylvania in March of 1975. Isaurina and Mario became naturalized American citizens there after almost 12 years of U.S. residency in 1978. She loved her adopted country and cherished her citizenship. Also in Johnstown, Isaurina and Mario separated in 1989 and later divorced.  Although in her later years she suffered illness and was often secluded, Isaurina loved her family and the beauty of nature, especially flowers and birdsong. She was a fervent Christian attending Johnstown Seventh Day Adventist church for many years, and read the King James Version of the Bible cover-to-cover many times.  Isaurina is survived by her former husband Mario Ritter, Sr. of Richmond Virginia; daughters Selma Nicholson and son-in-law Richard Nicholson of Redlands, California; Clelia Williams and son-in-law Mike Williams of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania; Myron Ritter and his partner Carla Alvarado of Pasadena, California; Rhomes Ritter and partner Bill Rotolo of Chicago, Illinois; Mario Ritter, Jr. and Yaxue Cao-Ritter of Washington, D.C.; Isaurina was grandmother to Stephanie and Jillian Nicholson, Cynthia, Bryce and Joshua Williams, Atalanta and Alexandre Ritter and great-grandmother to Angela and Lindsey.  Family will receive friends at the James F. Ferguson Funeral Home, 25 W. Market St., Blairsville, PA on Friday, May 3, 2019 from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM.  A celebration of her life will be held at 1pm.  Pastor Volodymyr Grinchenko will officiate.  Interment will be held in Blairsville Cemetery, Blairsville, PA.



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