Always a presence’: Longtime Madison School District superintendent Douglas Ritchie dies

Molly Beck:

Ritchie’s son John, of Madison, said becoming a superintendent was important to his dad, to the point of packing up the family of seven and moving to Boulder, Colorado, during the summer of 1962 to live in an apartment while Ritchie worked on his PhD. Ritchie’s children later attended Madison schools while he was heading the Madison School District.

“You tend to be credited for all of his decisions,” John Ritchie joked.

John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., arrived in Madison to head MTI about a year after Ritchie became superintendent. Matthews described their working relationship as competitive, but ultimately became “a joy,” and one with more more problems solved than created — notably ending a two-week strike in early 1976.

“Although tempers got a bit hot, he and I were able to work to resolve issues because we had developed such an honorable working relationship,” said Matthews. “Because of that, we were able to resolve the strike and move forward without animosity between staff and management. It was because of that ability that he remained so highly respected.”