Donna Lou (Monroe) Ritter, M.D. born in Rogers City, Michigan on June 29, 1939, died of advanced renal cancer October 20, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents Donald Mortimer Monroe, a Great Lakes limestone freighter captain and Nola Elizabeth (Denton) Monroe, an elementary school teacher. Surviving are her husband of 56 years, Charles Edward Ritter; two sons, Matthew Alan and Jeffrey Munro Ritter (Anastasia Angelova Angelova); twin grandchildren Benjamin Edward Angelov-Ritter and Kallista Elizabeth Angelova-Ritter; a brother, Malcolm “Mac” Lancaster Monroe; many nephews and nieces; and a host of friends she loved and considered family.
Lou’s grandfather was a horse-and-buggy physician in Rogers City. She followed in his footsteps, graduating cum laude from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1967 as one of 12 women in a class of 200. She completed a rotating internship at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo in 1968. While raising two sons, she practiced with the Kalamazoo County Department of Public Health as a member of the Board of Health (1973-76), the Medical Director (1976-1983), and as Well Child Clinic Physician (1976-1984). She served seven years on the Board of Trustees for The Child Guidance Clinic and was active with the Kalamazoo Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Council. Lou loved children and especially infants. She completed a fellowship with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton in Boston studying early childhood development. In her mid 40’s, Lou completed her Pediatric Residency through the Southwest Michigan Area Health Education Center in 1986. She then served children with Pediatrics, P.C. until her retirement in 2004. Lou was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1987. She served as the ﬁrst female president of the Kalamazoo Academy of Medicine in 1992.
In retirement, Lou cuddled babies in the NICU at Bronson on Friday mornings as a volunteer. She loved to knit baby booties and gift them to new mothers. She knitted many afghans for friends and family. She valued the many friendships she made through what she fondly called her “old lady yoga group.” Her genealogical research led to organizing a gathering of Monroes in Canada and the discovery that George Washington, our nation’s ﬁrst president, was named after a distant relative named George Eskridge. She had a chance to visit her ancestral homeland while attending a world-wide reunion of Clan Munro in Scotland. She travelled extensively, visiting Israel, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Columbia, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Mexico. She saw her eldest son married in Bulgaria, went to Africa on safari with her sister-in-law, and traveled through the Panama and Erie Canals. Regardless of how far she travelled, she remained devoted to the friends and relatives she grew up with in Rogers City.
Lou was very active in her church, serving in many leadership positions including as Senior Warden for several years. With a smile, she referred to herself as the “resident heretic.” She was, to borrow the words of one of her friends, a person possessed of candor wrapped in caring. We will miss her deeply, every day.
The family wishes to extend heart-ﬁlled thanks to all of Lou’s caregivers at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Friendship Village Health/Rehab Center and Glenn Arbor Hospice Residence. In lieu of ﬂowers, Lou requested that memorial donations be made to either the donor’s favorite charity, Saint Martin of Tours Episcopal Church, or the Kalamazoo CAN Council.
A celebration of Lou’s life will be held next spring after COVID restrictions are lifted.