Wilma Sue Ritter, of Viola, passed away peacefully Sunday, March 14, 2021, at her home. She was 75.
Sue was born April 30, 1945, in Detroit, Mich., to Norman and Wilma Jahn. At age 5, the family moved to Medford, Ore., where Sue grew up. Over the course of her life, she lived in many places, but loved none as much as the home she built with her husband, Bob, in Idaho.
A neuroscientist, she was rigorous in thought, though her imagination remained forever unbound. Sue’s long scientific career brought her international recognition and numerous accolades, but also respect as a kind and generous colleague and mentor. Her groundbreaking work on neural control of blood sugar levels was supported by National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association. Sue was a regent’s professor at Washington State University, and a visiting professor of medicine both in London, England, and Adelaide, Australia. She was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences and currently served on its board of directors. In remembrance, one of her colleagues wrote that, “It has been our privilege to be friends and colleagues with one of the great contemporary women in Neuroscience.”
During her life, Sue believed in many things, in poetry and hymns, in the scientific method and in hard, hard work. She believed most of all in her sons, Lincoln and Josh, and in her grandchildren, Jacob, Micah, Beatrix and Moxie.
In 1967, after returning from a stint as an airline stewardess, flying out of New York City, Sue met and married Bob Ritter, and the two of them did huge things together, always each other’s strongest advocates. She was a lover of animals; she spoke to birds; she was fascinated by the textures of tree bark and the shifting colors of sky and clouds. She devoted herself to finding answers but never forgot that joy is found in wonder. In addition to her husband, sons and grandchildren, Sue is survived by two sisters (Betsy and Julie in Oregon) and a brother (Philip in Idaho), all of whom will miss her greatly.
In her final days, Sue reminisced on riding her horse through the Sisque Mountain foothills as a young girl. “When lost,” she said, “give the horse its head and it will always carry you home.” All who knew Sue can be certain that, though she wandered far and wide, she has now made it safely home.
Viewing will be held from 8 to noon Wednesday at Short’s Funeral Chapel. A graveside service for family will be held at the Moscow cemetery.