Thomas Taylor Ritchey, former mayor of Independence (1994-1998), passed away peacefully in his home on Thursday, November 17, 2022, after a heroic battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Beth Ritchey, his brother Tim Ritchey and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Thomas began his career in public service as a US Army helicopter pilot and mechanic during the Vietnam War and later as the mayor of Independence and a Polk County Commissioner (1998-2011).
Having grown up in Independence, graduated from Central High School, and been heavily involved in regional civic organizations, Thomas’s local roots ran deep yet his aviation career took him across the entire country. While traveling and developing his aviation skills, the desire to return to the Willamette Valley was always top of mind. In 1990, Tom and Beth purchased 10 acres of land in Polk County—an effort Beth described as Thomas “trying to get back home.”
“He loved Independence,” stated Beth. “He really loved it.”
Some of Thomas’s greatest achievements as mayor were helping fix the city’s sewer system and developing master plans that laid the groundwork for the beautiful river city Independence is today.
“Tom was a champion for the City of Independence his entire career and leader in our community his whole life,” said Independence Mayor John McArdle. “Our city, county, and country are better places because of his service. He will be greatly missed.”
A visitation service is scheduled for November 29, 2022, from 3:00-6:00 PM at Farnstrom’s Mortuary, 410 Monmouth Street, in Independence, Oregon. Funeral services will be on November 30, 2022, at 1:00 PM at Farnstrom Mortuary. Graveside services will continue afterward at Hilltop Cemetery in Independence.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163, 1.800.708.7644.