George W. Ritter
George W. Ritter was a prominent Toledo attorney and philanthropist who made possible the building of the University of Toledo's Ritter Planetarium and Observatory, the Mary Ritter Hall and the law center at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. He also endowed two scholarships for UT law students.
Ritter was born in Vermillion, Ohio on June 30, 1866. He graduated from Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio. In 1906 he received his law degree from Cleveland Law School. He opened a private practice in Sandusky in 1907 but came to Toledo in 1913 to be a partner in the firm of Kohn, Ritter, Northup, and McMahon.
In 1917 he established his own firm in partnership with Leland Gardner. He began an association with the former Willys Corporation in 1925 when he became counsel to John North Willys, the founder of the company. Ritter, H.J. Leonard, and Ward M. Canaday organized Empire Securities, Inc, a holding company, in 1932. This company was established in order to process claims against Willys. In 1936 the firm was reorganized as Willys Overland Motors, Inc.
Ritter served as the secretary of Willys Overland from 1936-46; as vice-president from 1944-53; and as general counsel from 1936-53. His association with the company ended in 1953 with its sale to the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation.
In January of 1928, Ritter was named city law director by Mayor William Jackson, but he resigned in October of 1929 following a controversy with Municipal Judge Ira W. Cole.
Ritter remained active in law practice with the firm of Ritter, Boesel, Robinson & Marsh for a number of years as well as managing various office buildings. He was involved in a number of community organizations including the Toledo Club, The Toledo Country Club, the Inverness Club, the Maumee River Yacht Club, and the Toledo Chamber of Commerce. His community activities included serving on the board of trustees for The Toledo Hospital, the Toledo Museum of Art, Baldwin-Wallace College, and the YMCA.
Ritter was married to Mary Fowler on June 30, 1911. He died June 23, 1979 at the age of 92.[(The Blade, June 24, 1979). See also John Killits, Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio 1623-1923. vol.3 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923)].
George W. Ritter's grave
(Photography of Woodlawn Cemetery by Josef Schneider.)