David F. Ritchie

Date of Passing:

March 9, 2024

Ritchie, David F., 85, of Hope Street, Rumford, died on March 9, 2024 at his home surrounded by his loving family. He was the beloved husband of Sharon Kay (Francia) Ritchie.

Born in New Bedford, MA, a son of the late David W. and Ida (Cory) Ritchie, he lived in Rumford for the past three years, previously residing in Pittsburgh, PA.

David graduated from the University of Cincinnati Class of 1960 where he earned a master’s degree.

Mr. Ritchie was a college and professional football coach for 50 years before retiring in 2012. David began his coaching career in 1962 as an assistant coach with Greenbrier Military School.

He was an assistant coach with his alma mater, Cincinnati, from 1969 to 1972. He later joined the Brown Bears as an assistant coach and head recruiter. Thereafter, David was the head coach for the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons, from 1978 to 1982, where he compiled a 35–13–3 record.

He was a former American gridiron football coach in college football, the Canadian Football League (CFL), the Italian Football League (IFL), and Switzerland Nationalliga A (American football). He is best known for his time as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach from 1999 to 2004. He was a three-time Grey Cup champion, having won in 1990, 1994, and 2006 and was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year in 2001. He won 108 regular season games as a head coach in the CFL which is the seventh highest win total by a head coach in the league’s history.

Mr. Ritchie was named to the Fairmont State Hall of Fame in 2010, following five years as a head coach there with two conference titles and one Coal Bowl victory in 1979. He is a member of the Blue Bomber Hall of Fame as the fourth-winningest head coach in team history with a record of 52–44–1 and winning a Grey Cup as an assistant coach in 1990.

Mr. Ritchie was enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2022 as a builder.

Besides his wife of 65 years, he is survived by two daughters, Phyllis R. Buckley and her husband Jay of Riverside and Susan E. Custer and her husband Dan of Barrington, a son, David W. Ritchie of Rumford; eight grandchildren, Sarah, Matthew, Daniel, David, Katelyn, Kendra, Kylie and David; three great-grandchildren, two brothers, Frank J. Ritchie and his late wife Carole of Cincinnati, Ohio and Philip A. Ritchie and his wife Barbara of Raleigh, NC and a sister Susan R. Todres and her husband Allen of Franklin, MA and several nieces and nephews.

His Funeral Service will be held on Saturday March 16, 2024 in the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside at 9 a.m. A private burial will follow in Beach Grove Cemetery, Westport, MA.

The Ritchie family will receive relatives and friends for a Celebration of Life on Saturday March 16, 2024 from 1-3 p.m. in the Blue Water Grill Restaurant, 32 Barton Avenue, Barrington, RI 02806.

Calling Hours and flowers are respectfully omitted. Contributions in David’s memory to The Wolf School, 215 Ferris Avenue, East Providence, RI, 02916 would be deeply appreciated.

Online Condolences


  1. Coach played a big roll in my life as I transitioned from football at Maryland University to Syracuse Universal, playing for and attending Greenbrier Military School in 1964. A very difficult year in my life, but Coach was there for me on and off the field. All my condolences and God bless.

  2. Sending love, hugs and sincere sympathies to you, Sharon, and your family. May wonderful memories and the love so many people feel for you and Dave give you strength and surround you now and in the coming days and weeks ahead. I have such happy memories of knowing you when you lived in Winnipeg when you joined our American Women’s Club and made wonderful contributions to our programs – like our Toy Tea! Kirk and I enjoyed meeting up with you and Dave in Cincinnati and in Florida. You two were an incredible “team” that inspired all of us! God bless you always!

  3. Coach Ritchie was a great coach and a better person who made time for everyone and positively impacted so many lives in the Fairmont State community.

    Our Thoughts and Prayers are with Sharon and the entire Ritchie family.

    Mike Arcure Family

  4. To Mrs Ritchie, Phyllis and Sue, I have so many nice memories of Mr Ritchie from our softball days and our Yankee Doodle trio when you both chaperoned. Such a sweet man and great father. May you all be comforted by your lifelong memories. 🙏🏻🧡

  5. Condolences to Sharon and the family. Coach Ritchie was not only a great coach but an even better person. We learned so my life lessons from him. I guess heaven needed a football coach. He truly is in a better place. RIP! We will miss you dearly.

  6. No words can express what Dave meant to our family. He was kind, funny and never let us get away with anything. He always expected the best from everyone. He will remain in my heart. He was an unforgettable soul.

  7. Coach Ritchie was a great man and a player’s coach who inspired all. Coach Ritchie and Coach Wirth made Brown a winner in the 70’s and made football fun. God Bless you Coach you left your mark.

  8. Memories, fifty years past, still so vivid of Coach Ritchie. I count myself blessed to have been coached by Dave. Condolences to Sharon and his family.

  9. “The players play”
    RIP Coach.

  10. Lance and I are so sorry to hear about Dave’s passing. Even though we didn’t see each other very often we consider him a dear friend. Lance remembers with love the time he and Dave shared life in New Bedford and later at college games. May the memories you have of him be a blessing to all of you. And may God hold him in the palm of His hands. May he rest in peace.

  11. Coach I often thanked you for the guidance you gave me as a post graduate player at Greenbrier Military School in 1966-67. You Coached me and my Teammates to be better players and students. I am so thankful we continued our relationship over the last 50 years.
    I will be forever grateful for what you did for me and my Teammates Mike Watkins and Bobby Huffman. The Memories will never be lost! God Bless You Coach and your Family!

  12. Dave allowed me as a Brown Alumnus who played and then coached while in the Marine Corps to view “films” of high school prospects with him. Almost any coach can spot the star players. Dave could assess ordinary players that he could develop into good or great players –a rare gift!!!

  13. One of my favorite coaches of all time!!! RIP coach Ritchie and than you for all you did for me in my time at Brown

  14. I would like to thank Coach Ritchie’s wife and children who shared him and lost a lot of hours with their husband and dad because of his job . Your sacrifice is always remembered.
    The years I played for him are a great memory.

  15. So sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. Condolences to his family and close friends. Dave was one of the best coaches on a staff of great coaches at Brown in the early to mid 70’s while helping to guide Brown to numerous winning seasons. He will be missed!

  16. Was so blessed to know Dave & Sharon. Wonderful people. Loved listening to Dave talk about football & tell stories about his time in the game. So successful in the game of football. Love to Sharon. My thoughts & prayers are with Sharon & family. ❤️🙏

  17. Deepest Condolences….

  18. Coach, we miss you already. Your strong leadership created strong men of character. You commanded discipline and respect and you got it. You made good football players out of us but more importantly you taught us how to be strong men which still leads us today. I treasure our 1979 conference champion season and Coal Bowl victory. What a day we had when you were proudly inducted into the Canadian Pro Football Hall of Fame. Finally, it was an honor and a privilege to have played for you. You loved all of us and you will always be with each of us. Prayers to your family.

  19. Thank you for everything ❤️ RIP Coach

  20. I’m already missing you Coach. What a strong leader and powerful father figure you were for all of us. You commanded discipline and respect from all of us and you got it. I still treasure our 1979 conference champion season and Coal Bowl win. All of the things you taught us about being good team football players and strong men still guide us today. I’m forever grateful for having you as my coach, mentor and friend. It was a wonderful day we had when you were inducted into the Canadian Pro Football Hall of Fame. Finally, it was an honor and a privilege to play for you because we truly loved you and you will always be with us. RIP

  21. Sharon, my heart goes out to you and your family at this difficult time. May your many happy memories be both a blessing and a comfort. Dave leaves a legacy in Winnipeg and across the CFL that will not be forgotten. Sending hugs. ~Cathy

  22. I played for Coach Ritchie at Brown University from 1973-75. He was a great Coach, motivator, and terrific football mind. His linebackers were simply awesome and feared. He along with Coach Wirth made Brown University a winner. Nice to know his resting place is where I live in Westport, MA. God Bless Coach Ritchie !

  23. Coach Ritchie, along with his good friend and coaching colleague, Joe Wirth turned Brown university from a perennial loser to respected winner.
    Our defenses under coach were very tough but he made the hard work fun and rewarding. Just a great influence in my life as a player at Brown in 1973-75…RIP

  24. God bless your soul, Dave. You were a special person and it was always great talking to you and Sharon. Rest in peace.

  25. Thank you for your leadership and guidance through my career. You will be missed. The falcon family will miss you!

  26. Thanks for everything you did for me and being a part of my life. Thanks for being a second father to many of us. Prayers and blessings to Sharon and the children. What a great life to celebrate.

  27. RIP Coach.Thanks for being there as a friend and coach.

  28. Dave Ritchie was a coach’s coach, a player’s coach and a fan’s coach. He was loved and appreciated by many fans in Winnipeg and the CFL. He always had a word for the Blue Bomber fans and he brought the best out of his players.

    Dave will always be remembered not only as a good person, but, as well as one of the best and most successful head coaches in Blue Bomber history.

    Condolences and sympathy to his family and friends. Blessings.

  29. Dave was born to coach because he loved people.

    In December of 1992, I was hired as GM of the BC Lions. My first major decision was hiring Dave as head coach. The next three seasons brought great success and a Grey Cup Championship to Vancouver, but more than winning on the field, I watched a true winner in life. Dave was as competitive as any coach I’ve known, but he loved his players even more than he loved winning. He and Sharon knew every wife on a personal level and every player’s child always felt special around them. We weren’t just a team, we were a family because of the culture they created. Dave’s office was filled with pictures drawn by the kids of our prayers, often with crayons – the sun, a rainbow, the Easter Bunny, or skinny pictures of Dave (which he loved.) That kind of family bond is rare in pro football, but it speaks to the man Dave was. A Hall of Famer in every respect.

    Like many others in this thread, I was blessed by Dave’s friendship. I always joked that he deserved a $20,000 cooking bonus in his contract because of how many of us Sharon fed so many of us. And, those plates were loaded and delicious. On full stomachs, Dave and I must have played shuffleboard and pool a thousand times at his house – and, fueled by his competitive nature, Dave darn sure won far more than his share. Always laughing with joy when he did. He loved to win, he loved to laugh, he loved his players, he loved his Lord, and, goodness, he loved Sharon and his family.

    Like many others who have posted, my thoughts and prayers are with Sharon, Davy, Phyllis, Susan and all of the grandkids. As the weeks go by, may your pain turn to gratitude for a life of true meaning.

    Blessings to all who’ve posted. May Dave’s love and influence always be with you.

  30. You were my first coach and my only coach. You scared me into becoming a solid player and I hope person. You wrote me a letter in 1969 which I still treasure. I loved you then and I love you now. My heart is with you Big Dawg….

  31. It was an honor and privilege to know such an outstanding person and coach. Coach Ritchie – the best! Please accept my sincere sympathy in the loss of your loved one.

  32. My condolences to the Richie family.
    Coach Dave, Richie was a great man , coach and my friend.
    Thanks for all the great Memories. He will be missed.
    Rest in peace, BIG GUY?

  33. Big Dave thanks for being a patient and encouraging coach and a friend later on in life, enjoyed our talks, RIP

  34. Are sincere condolences to the family.

  35. RIP Coach Ritchie

    You are one of the greatest coaches ever to walk the halls at Fairmont State University. Your love for the players was second to none.
    Coach Ritchie not only built great football teams but he also built great men while at FSU.

    You’re bigger than life personality will be missed by all Falcon fans.

    Rest in Peace Coach Ritchie.

    The Elliotts

  36. Sending love and support from Cohere Health.

  37. Coach Ritchie was the best in the business. I worked alongside of Coach as Sports Information Director and basketball coach at Fairmont. It was a complete joy and honor . Thoughts go out to the family

  38. Thank you coach for believing in me and for being a friend and mentor. I will miss our talks. My heart goes out to Sharon and your family and all the people you have touched over the years.

  39. RIP Coach! Thanks for all your influence and guidance. I will always have great memories of you at FSU.

  40. Thanks Coach for all you did for me and Faimont State. RIP.
    We lost more than a coach.

  41. As a young sports reporter I always enjoyed interviewing Coach Ritchie at Fairmont State. He couldn’t have been more accommodating and I enjoyed our chats. I got a chance to reminisce with him quite a few years later when my wife’s niece married his nephew Scott Ritchie.

  42. Coach Dave Ritchie! You were an incredible human being..lThe best coach I ever had.. Thank you for an incredible journey! Thank you so very much for believing in me! Thank you for your patience, your kindness, your knowledge and your love for every single player in the locker room.. You called me THE FRENCH LUMBERJACK lol You took me under your wing..from Ottawa Rough Riders, The BC Lions, and Montreal Alouettes. Love you Coach Ritchie.❤️

  43. I wanted to thank you for ALWAYS believing in me & pushing me to be the best version of yourself coach.
    Job well done!!! RIP

  44. Thanks for your encouragement and leadership.

  45. Thank you for being an excellent coach but thank you even more for being, and most important, an excellent person. The family atmosphere you created within the football teams you coached, help leave a legacy that will live forever. GO MIAMI! (Inside Joke) Love you, Coach

  46. Coach Ritchie, thank you for giving this kid a chance to live a dream. You were the ultimate professional and loved us all. My prayers are with your entire family.

  47. We were so sad to learn of his passing but we are confident he is at peace. Sending love and hugs to his family…thinking of all of you.❤️

  48. Sending our love and condolences to Sharon and the family. We are grateful for the many years of friendship, love, laughter and CFL football we were able to share together. He was an incredible man and leaves an incredible legacy behind. May he live on in your hearts for always. ❤️ Rest well Coach. 🏈

  49. Until we meet again May you rest in peace our condolences to the entire family

  50. Through your career, you don’t run across many coaches who loved their players and had their backs like Coach Ritchie. Thank you to the Ritchie family for sharing him with us. May God’s love continue to shine on you all!

    The Nash’s

  51. My condolences to the family.
    Please know Coach Ritchie is in a better place now.
    God bless and gods peace to you all.

  52. Your beliefs and values, your guidance and strength will be forever instilled into our hearts and the hearts of so many. You (and beautiful Sharon) were our home away from home. Sending our love to all those who ache with your departure.

  53. Condolences to Sharon and the family. We have great memories of our times together on and off the football field.
    Dave was a great friend and coach. His Legacy lives on.
    Colin, Marian and Susan Cameron

  54. Rest in peace Coach Ritchie. AC-FSC class of 78-81

  55. May His soul rest in perfect peace and may God comfort his family and friends.
    My deepest condolences 💐

  56. Thanks for everything you taught me as a coach. I will always value our friendship. Until we meet again, my friend.

  57. Thanks you Coach for all the life lessons. You will be missed.

  58. Fly high Coach. You influenced so.many of us

  59. RIP Coach. Great Man ! Fairmont State Falcons !

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