Sharon Marie Anderson Ritchey was born on May 31, 1936 in San Diego, CA to Lloyd and Dorothy Anderson. She grew up with her younger sister, Carol, and, often, with a “like-a-brother” cousin, Douglas Stanley. Her close-knit extended family was all based in the San Diego area, and several lived together during the war.
Sharon loved everything nature, art and animals. As a youth, she collected wild lizards and other critters in the canyons near their home, occasionally housing them in her dresser drawers, much to the chagrin of her mother. She loved the out-of-doors, and if she didn’t need shoes, she was usually barefoot. Indeed, her future husband would affectionately call her “Lucy,” after a popular song called “Put Your Shoes On, Lucy.” She loved the water, and spent time at the beach, fished with her father, and worked as a lifeguard and counselor at the Kona Kai Club in San Diego during High School.
Sharon graduated from Grossmont High School and enrolled at San Diego State the following year. There, during Freshman Orientation, she met her future husband, Don Ritchey, SDSU’s class president and one of the orientation counselors. He offered her and some friends a ride home from the retreat, conveniently making sure Sharon was the last to be dropped off. From that meeting sprang a truly inspiring love that led to an incredible 65 years of marriage.
Don and Sharon courted and dated in-between class schedules and Don’s work at Food Basket. They married in 1956 and welcomed three children between 1957 and 1961: Mike, Tamara and Shawn.
Her kids were always marveled by Sharon’s astonishing range of skills. She could create or fix nearly anything – from sewing or needlework and supporting kids’ art projects to fixing broken electronics or tackling home repairs. She brought her love of animals to her family, encouraging a range of family pet species that was unparalleled in the neighborhood. She was a terrific cook, and loved both casual and elaborate entertaining, often with a country or cultural theme.
Sharon was a significant and active partner in her husband’s career and life. This was true from the early years of Don’s work with Lucky Stores, which led to 9 moves the first 11 years they were married, and, later, to the many happy, active and productive years post-retirement.
When their kids were grown, Sharon returned to school to finish her BA in Fine Arts at UC Berkeley. She relished interacting with the younger students, and was the person who always had any needed item to share, from art supplies to band-aids. She also loved the chance to take the opposing side in family Big Game bets.
Work and a love of travel took Sharon and Don across the globe, where Sharon often had the chance to showcase her photography skills – particularly with the wild animals of her much-beloved Africa. These photographs were, then, often the inspiration for paintings.
An accomplished artist, Sharon worked across media - from painting and printmaking to drawing and photography. She showed and sold her work at art shows and open studios and also shared her talents by teaching drawing and painting to both school-aged and adult students. She owned and ran an art gallery and custom-framing store for several years, sharing her love of art while also building considerable business skills. She expanded her art skills to the performing arts, studying drama for several years at a local college and acting in - and supporting - regional theater productions. She continued to enjoy the dramatic world through a play-reading group for many years.
Danville was home for 45 years, and Sharon was actively involved in the community throughout. She was President of the high school PTA, a co-founder of the Danville Fine Art Gallery, Chair of the Danville Arts Commission, and served on the Board of Role Players Ensemble. She and Don were named Danville Citizens of the Year.
Sharon can perhaps best be described as a woman of grace, driven by a profound faith in God and evidenced in a life of caring and concern for so many. She endured three decades of often debilitating back pain with grace, faith and optimism, never losing her focus on others. She thrived when spending time with family and friends, both in groups and one-on-one. She was involved with and supported numerous causes and organizations important to her. But she shined most brightly with the love-of-her life, Don. Their relationship continued to grow and evolve, as work, family and life circumstances changed, with the constant that they were always there for each other. They created a home filled with mutual respect, curiosity, support and love.
Sharon was preceded in death by her parents Lloyd Franklin Anderson and Dorothy Louise Oliver Anderson and her sister, Carol Anderson Warwick. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, S. Donley (Don) Ritchey; three kids, Mike (Carissa) Ritchey, Tamara Ritchey Powers, and Shawn (Tori) Ritchey; 6 grandchildren, Alex (Jordan), Eliza, Skylar (Cale) Brenna, Paxton and Gideon; 2 great-grandchildren, Xena and Zander; and a host of extended family and friends who will miss her beyond words.
A family burial will be followed by a celebration of life at a future date. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to the John Muir Health Foundation, 1400 Treat Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA 94597.
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