Rob Ritz — Architect Living in Stratford


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This is Ritz. Some of my great memories were when I would arrive at 2-3 in the morning from architecture studio and discover the spoils of those great Third Russel escapades.  The next day at brunch I would get details. During my first two of 5 years on the floor I had the greatest roommate in Brian Hamilton. As some of you may remember I missed the second half of my first (76) frosh week by getting my appendix out at Civic hospital. The stay extended to the day after registered for classes. During that day in addition to registering for his own classes Brian tried to register me for first year architecture. It began right there, what I loved about Third Russell during all five years we looked out for each other.

One time during my early morning arrival, possibly winter 78-79, I discovered sand on the floor of the hall and the TV lounge, beer bottles along the floor of the hall, beer bottles and cups along the window sill in the lounge and  of course the smell of many spilt beers. What, did I miss a party? The next day at lunch I found out that we had an impromptu American beach party.Now let’s hear the details of that story!

Reflections from Rob Ritz

The very first time I arrived at Third Russell I was with my parents who brought me up from Stratford. About a half hour later, after unpacking and claiming the bed at the window and the respect drawers, my roommate Brian Hamilton walks into the room with two cases of beer  with dad following with the luggage. My mom looked at me with discern and said, “I wish you luck with him!” And lucky I was. A few days later after too much corn on the cob and burgers with the all you can eat at every meal at Saga I had an appendix attack and was admitted to Civic Hospital to have my appendix removed. The stay extended to the day after registered for classes. During that day, in addition to registering for his own classes, Brian tried to register me for first year architecture. It began right there, what I loved about Third Russell during all five years we looked out for each other.

Brian was quite the ladies man and he scoped out the girls on Second Grenville during the first days of orientation week. This was quite the thing for me to watch as I never dated in high school. There were many girls but there was one that he said was in architecture or something. Brian introduced me to Karin Birker and another great friend was added to my life. We spent many late nights working in studio along with Tom Laverty from Fourth Russell. We were a bit of a team Birker, Laverty and Ritz. Karin and Tom got me into skiing and dating.

In first year our room mates were Tom “Disco” Matier and Bob Plamondon. After many parties Bob would be swooing the girls in his room with Neil Sedaka’s “Laughter in the Rain”. One weekend his girlfriend Jody came up and stayed over. Brain and I were awakened the next morning with the sounds of giggles and moans coming from the shower. From our beds we both looked at each other and just smiled. Way to go Bob.

Bob was a free style skier with Labatt’s. That year winter set in early and the hills were open before Christmas and my good friends Tom and Karin hooked up with Bob and took me skiing. I am sure it was very entertaining for them to watch me fall as often as I did but I loved skiing and joined the Residence Ski Club. In second year Wally Laroque was the President of the Residence Ski Club and at the end of the year he handed the reigns over to Tom and I.

At the beginning of first year I think Karin had a boyfriend in Markham and that broke off at Thanksgiving. Later that year she was asking me about Guy Graveline and the rest is history.During that time Karin was on the Raven’s volley ball team and asked me if I wanted to join her and a friend to buy running shoes. Yes she was setting me up and introduced me to Lynn Gallant who eventually became my first girlfriend. With coaching from Karin and Tom I asked Lynn to the Res Formal. With further coaching, on the night of the formal, I did the classic first kiss on the neck to the song “If” by Bread. Lynn was from Alexandria and she visited that summer when she was visiting an aunt in Ingersoll and canoeing in London. Lynn and I have kept in touch over the years and one time Brian and Lynn came to Stratford to visit.

Brian and I roomed for another year and I believe we had a beer fridge in the room for the second year. By missing a half a week of first year orientation and knowing what res was all about this was the year to have fun during orientation week. New girls to meet including my wife Debbie in the line registering for residence. She was with her best friend Debbie G and Debbie G’s mother. I was with Tom and commented on their appearance. I did not really notice. Later in the month while I was cruising down the hall of Third Grenville to see if anyone wanted to go swimming I passed by this open door. I looked in and there was a cute brunette sitting at the desk reading. I continued walking and thought , she was cute. So walked back, popped my head in the door and said, “you’re cute, what’s your name?” She told me she was Debbie and did not take me up on the offer of swimming.  Then September 30 after I completed a project deadline I hit res that night as there were many floor parties with the mission to find Debbie. We eventually y hooked up. I took her to show her the architecture building and my studio space and walked back to res and herard music of aaprty from the open windows of Second Refrew. We danced there a bit until colour my world was played but was sung by chickens. Not really that last song I was looking for so we left. As we were walking out the building the DJ played “Your Song” by Elton John. I asked Debbie to dance right there. She asked, ”Here outside?” I said, “Yes” and took her in my arms and danced under the streetlight t with the fallen leaves around our feet. During the song, you guessed it, I kissed her on the neck. As Karin said, “If they pull you in they are okay with it”. We walked back the link and kissed good night but during the descent, she later told me, I gave her a fat lip. I guess I am better with the neck. Anyways, I walked away really cool and as I turned the corner I ran down the hall to my room thrilled with what just happened.

After school was over I was staying with the Birkers in Markham with Karin and her family during the time I worked in Toronto. Karin worked downtown as well and invited me up to stay at her parent’s place instead of my boss’s place on Toronto Island. Those were great days commuting to Markham with her dad Kurt and having great German meals prepared her mom Ruth. Kurt and I would get into the beer and the wood working projects he was crafting in his basement. I felt like part of the family. During that time Karin was preparing for her wedding with Guy and I was witnessing wedding chaos from the bride’s point of view. It was all fun and that wedding was in a way the first Third Russell reunion. What a photograph of the boys!

Another Second Grenville girl that got know was Tina Luis. Tina loved dancing and so did I. She was from London, just down the road from Stratford, so we also got togetherand went out dancing with friends through the summer. One year we won a dancing contest in Stratford and were called to come back for the finals! It was during school and we declined.  I think at the endof third year Brian and Tina started dating and married that December. I was one of 18 in the wedding party. Unfortunately for them the marriage failed and Brian continued on and later found a very great lady in Sandra. Debbie and I were guests at that wedding. We stayed at a hotel that was occupied with kids and parents attending a hockey tournament. Little did we know at the time that hockey tournaments were going to be part of our future.

Lived on Third Russell for all five years 76-81 I was in the Architecture program at Carleton.  I met my wife Debbie Brodie September 30, 77 who lived on Third Grenville. We both graduated in June 4, 1981 with Debbie receiving an Honours BA in Psychology and Sociology.

We were married May 1, 1982 and Debbie moved from her hometown of Cornwall to my hometown of Stratford where I worked for John Brock Architect. I was his only employee. Debbie did some volunteer work and networked until she received a position at the Perth Children’s Aid Society. She has had many different positions since she has been there. I became a Member of the Ontario Association of Architects February 22, 1985 and partnered with Brock in a firm that grew to 4 employees.

That fall Debbie and I purchased a property to relocate the office. In May of 1986 our first son James Robert Brodie Ritz was born.  I bought out Brock that summer and was issued a certificate of practice by the OAA July 23, 1986 in the name of R. Ritz Architect. We grew to ten employees.  In November our second son Jared Kyle Brodie Ritz was born. December 31, 1988 we moved from the duplex my parents owned to our home at 218 Water Street. In July 1991 our third son John Alexander Brodie Ritz was born.  The recession hit in 92 and it was down to just me in early 93. Business was on and off with just enough to get by.

During that time the great moments for me were watching and coaching my son James play hockey. The other boys also played. Setting up the backyard rink the third weekend in December was a tradition for 17 seasons. There were many hockey tournaments.John played travel hockey for Stratford every year from mites to major midgets. The boys also played soccer in the summer.

In 1984 I was also invited to join the Rotary Club of Stratford. I started another Rotary Club in 1995 and during my presidency in 1996 had the first women to ever join the Stratford Rotary Club. I was an Assistant District Governor for 1997 and 1998 and I was the Districts Vocational chair in 1999. I am still an active member and steer dragon boats at our annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Work picked up since Leah Aylsworth joined me as an architectural Technician in 2001. The business has grown. In addition to Leah, Darryl and Justine also work with me as technicians and Susan as my Assistant.  Our work involves aircraft hangars, A&W’s, car dealerships, churches, apartments, townhouses and offices.We work all over the province from as far west as Thunder Bay, south to Windsor, east to Montreal and north to Timmins.

The kids have all left the house now. James received a diploma in Graphic Design from Fanshawe in London and is doing freelance graphic design and finishing hardwood floors. He lives with his girlfriend Tanya in Stratford. Jared received a diploma in Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College in Charlottetown. Jared is a Red Seal Chef and works at a butcher in Toronto where he lives with his wife Heidi. John is at the University of Waterloo in Criminal Justice after receiving a diploma in Police Foundations from Conestogo College in Kitchener. John lives with his girlfriend Kayla in Guelph.

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    Guy Graveline Written by:

    Married to Karin who I met in 1977 while on 3rd Russell. We have 2 boys, and I am a grandfather with another on the way. Looking forward to getting together with everyone..