A small group of friends, family and fellow parishioners of Scott McRitchie gathered recently to celebrate the dedication of a new bench in his honor.
The bench is located on the campus of St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church, in front of its cultural hall. Before the dedication, Marilyn McRitchie spoke of her late husband’s dedication to service to the residents of Riverbank.
“I know he was never comfortable with being singled out and preferred to remain in the background, doing what he could to help others in need,” she said in prepared remarks. “That is one reason I chose the location of his bench, away from any ‘limelight’.”
The bench is designed to provide seating for those waiting for an event in the hall, or to just sit and visit with friends. St. Frances is at 2827 Topeka St., at Callander Avenue. It is part of the Stockton Diocese.
She said she included the St. Vincent de Paul logo on the bench because of his involvement with the group after the family moved to Riverbank 30 years ago. Mrs. McRitchie said he helped organize and operate a unit here after working with one where they lived previously in the Bay Area.
McRitchie had landed a job at Tri-Valley Growers in Modesto and moved to Riverbank in 1988, putting his Masters in Pomology, the science of fruits and fruit growing, at UC Davis to good use.
At St. Frances, he often served as a lector, commentator or lay minister, and a special tradition was personally receiving the children’s offering at mass. He also started the Senior Club which provided many older parishioners a monthly social gathering.
Father Misael Avila, Pastor of St. Frances of Rome offered the prayer of dedication for the bench, saying, in part:
“...Today, we entreat your kindness, as we remember the life of Scott McRitchie and his work here at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church. As we dedicate this bench in his memory, we ask that all who sit on it be renewed in spirit and strengthened in mind and body,” Avila said. “May this bench provide a place of respite and peace that cradles and inspires the imagination. Grant all who sit here may also enjoy the awe and wonder, the respect for life, and compassion for their fellow man that God granted to Scott.”
Among other public services during his time in Riverbank, McRitchie was instrumental in reclaiming a park from its apparent desolation in the late ‘90s, when he formed Friends of Jacob Myers Park, a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to helping manage and improve the park over the years. He served many years as its president, even while volunteering in other areas around town.
The first major project at Jacob Myers Park came with the installation of a group of large playground structures and construction of public restrooms there, finished in 2001.
It was built with grants and contributions from local businesses and organizations, assembled and installed by community members.
He was recognized for his efforts at the time by the Community Outreach organization of the San Francisco 49ers, one of only 10 communities in the north state to be so noticed.
Recently, the camping area in the park was dedicated in his name, as well as the walking/jogging trail at the east end of the park, last year.
Recognized as Citizen of the Year in 2003, McRitchie also served on the Planning Commission, the Housing Authority, and he volunteered at the Cheese and Wine Festival. He also served on the city’s Finance Committee.