John Ritschard: ‘He loved the kids, and they loved him’

first_imgIf South Dining Hall was ever serving Carl’s chicken as the special, John Ritschard made sure the students knew.Photo courtesy of I Am Notre Dame He’d swipe their ID cards, give them a smile and tell a joke. Then he’d suggest a meal for them to try.“He was a walking, talking menu,” his wife, Lila Ritschard, said.John died Sunday afternoon at age 86. He had been diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer, in March 2015. But that didn’t stop him from coming to work in the dining hall for months after his diagnosis.“He loved it. My husband loves young people,” Lila said. “He loves to tell jokes and riddles and tease. He enjoyed students coming in and out, getting to know them. We just loved being here.”Lila started working as a day monitor in 2007. When John was hired in 2008, the two took the night shift — 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. — on Mondays through Thursdays.Over the years, they became an integral part of the Notre Dame community.“Notre Dame was the greatest support over all these years,” Lila said. “It just blows me away — the love that has been shown to us both here.”Jack of all tradesJohn was born and raised in South Bend, Lila said, but didn’t have much to do with the University until he started working in the dining hall.“He found his niche here,” she said.After high school, John worked in the Studebaker plant for a couple years. He worked at Sears in Elkhart for more than 20 years as one of the top salespeople. After stints in the real estate industry and other odd jobs, he made his way to Notre Dame.The pair — John and Lila — quickly became a staple at South Dining Hall. They almost never missed a day of work.“We just were always together. We just enjoyed each other,” Lila said. “I don’t think we were ever off up until the last three years.”John and Lila met in January 1999. She was working in a beauty shop at the time and a big blizzard had just struck the town. As she was cancelling the day’s appointment, in came John, traipsing over snow banks, to use his coupon for a free haircut.“Everybody used to call me the coupon bride,” she said. “I said, ‘Yes, he came in for a free haircut. See how much it cost him? The most expensive haircut of his life.’”John was the type of person that would do anything for anyone, Lila said.“I had to be careful what I said,” she added. “He was a jack of all trades. There was nothing he couldn’t fix, nothing he couldn’t make.”He made all the wood furniture in the couple’s house. He made all of Lila’s lamps. He made the table that stands in the middle of the dining hall entrance, with carved Notre Dame logos.And once, he even made his own plane, Lila said.“He was a pilot,” she said. “And he taught his whole family how to fly. They used to fly about everywhere they went.”All in all, John was a man who loved to help others, Lila said.“He would reach out to anything in need,” she said. “He loved to teach and he loved to learn.”A contagious smileSenior Marta Poplawski said she met John during her first weekend at Notre Dame. He stopped her as she was walking into the dining hall and asked for her name.“The next day, he remembered me,” she said. “It was the first moment someone was really welcoming here outside of hall staff.”A week later, Poplawski was going to eat dinner alone around 4:30 p.m. — then she saw John and Lila at a nearby table.“So I sat down and just ate with them,” she said. “And that started three years of friendship.”Over the years, John and Lila kept up with students and graduates. John won the Irish Clover Award last year, given to two individuals each year for outstanding service to the student body.“I felt like John and Lila were my grandparents away from home, in a sense,” Poplawski said.John’s smile was simply contagious, said senior Adam Degand. And it was always the same.“He had such a goofy smile,” he said. “He would make you stop for a second, show you that smile and ask you about whatever’s going on.”“Especially if you’re a freshman or new to the school — it makes you feel like you’re part of the community,” he added. “That’s special.”Dining hall monitor Dee Michael said John always had a joke of the day.“He loved the kids, and they loved him,” she said.Some days, the dining hall would run out of certain dishes — because John talked about them too much.“The cooks used to get so mad at him because he’d be telling them what the specials were, and people would listen to him. So we’d be running out of it,” South Dining Hall manager Ruth Pajor said.Dennis Smith, a manager at South Dining Hall, said John’s warm and welcoming presence will be missed by all.“The night is not the same when he’s not around,” he said. “He just had a glow about him.”The simplest things Sami Zuba, a 2014 Notre Dame graduate, said in her freshman year, her birthday fell during the first two weeks of school. And she wasn’t having a great day.“It was my first birthday away from home and everything,” she said. “But then I got up to the front of the line, John swiped my card and told me happy birthday. It just absolutely made my day to know that someone on campus cared.”It was small acts like this that showed John’s big heart, Zuba said.“It was just such a simple thing,” she said. “And I think a lot of people walk out of Notre Dame hoping they can do big things to make a difference in people’s lives. One of the best ways you can do that is just doing little things.”Editor’s note: Sami Zuba was an assistant managing editor for The Observer.Every Tuesday and Thursday, sophomore Amy Mansfield and her service dog Juniper would eat dinner in South Dining Hall before folk choir practice. And every time, John stopped them to ask how they were doing.“You don’t expect someone to have such a big impact on your life when it’s a 30-second interaction each time you see him,” she said.When people complained that the chairs the monitors sat on were too tall, John took one home each night and cut it down, until they were all shorter.“That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Smith said.John had the ability to immediately light up a room, Poplawski said.“You could not enter with a bad mood into South Dining Hall,” she added. “I would wear headphones, and he would make me take them off to talk to him.”John did much more than greet people, Mansfield said.“I don’t know if it was his goal to touch every student, but I feel like everyone who walked through their line during dinner was somehow impacted,” she said. “Their day was probably made a little bit better.A visitation for John will be held Sept. 24 at Osceola Methodist Church from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will be immediately followed by a service. Both are open to the public.Notre Dame Food Services is going to provide the meat and cake for the luncheon.“We’re just so blessed and humbled to be a part of this community,” Lila said. “I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”Tags: John and Lila, John Ritschard, Notre Dame Food Services, SDH, South Dining Hall, South Dining Hall monitorlast_img read more

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Liverpool defender set to withdraw from England squad with injury | Football News

first_img“He will be out of England. Scan tomorrow and then we will see,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City on Sunday. 3:00 The right-back had to be substituted in the 63rd minute with a suspected calf problem, with James Milner replacing him.Chelsea defender Reece James, who could deputise for Alexander-Arnold, can feature in the friendly match against the Republic of Ireland on November 12, but is suspended for Nations League matches against Belgium and Ireland later this month. – Advertisement – – Advertisement – preview image Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to withdraw from the England squad to face Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland this month with a suspected calf injury.Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp confirmed the defender will have a scan on Monday but insisted it would keep the defender out of England’s squad for their upcoming fixtures next week.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool in the Premier League.last_img read more

Palace secure Premier League promotion

first_imgKevin Phillips grabbed the golden goal to fire Crystal Palace into the Barclays Premier League and end his play-off final hoodoo with an extra-time 1-0 victory. The Championship’s player of the year Matej Vydra endured a miserable first half and limped off at half-time. Instead it was Wilfried Zaha who caught the eye throughout, and he lured Marco Cassetti into the clumsy lunge which ultimately settled the match in the 104th minute. Zaha created Palace’s only chance of the first half with a scintillating run down the right, leaving Nathaniel Chalobah and Cassetti chasing shadows before pulling the ball back to Owen Garvan, whose shot was blocked. Troy Deeney crossed to no-one when he should have shot, before Vydra was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle from Damien Delaney on the edge of the area. Injuries did not help the flow of the game either – Palace midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi succumbed to a calf problem early on and Vydra spent most of the first half limping around before failing to emerge for the second. It took almost an hour for the first shot on target to be registered, and Alex Geijo’s grass-cutter did not pose Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni any problems. Palace did create a clear opening moments later but unfortunately it fell to Aaron Wilbraham. The striker did not look confident as he bore down on goal and, having opted to turn back inside rather than shoot early, the opportunity disappeared. Zaha went on another mazy run before playing in Stuart O’Keefe, whose shot was saved by Manuel Almunia. The former Arsenal stopper, having spent the first half as a virtual spectator, was now keeping his side in the match with fine saves from Garvan, Wilbraham and Mile Jedinak. The breakthrough came when Cassetti, by now dizzy having been twisted and turned by Zaha yet again, brought the winger down in the area. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot and Phillips crashed the penalty high into the net. The drama did not end there with Joel Ward clearing Fernando Forestieri’s shot off the line in stoppage time. But it was Zaha, Phillips and Palace manager Ian Holloway who were celebrating moments later as the Eagles secured their return to the top flight after an eight-year absence. The striker, who turns 40 in the summer, kept his nerve to blast in a penalty and dash his former club Watford’s dreams of promotion. It was a special moment for Phillips, who had lost all three of his previous play-off finals. It was special too for Palace chairman Steve Parish and his co-owners, who saved the club from going bust three years ago and can now look forward to a windfall in the region of £120million. Those high stakes seemed to overwhelm Watford, whose key performers this season simply did not show up at Wembley. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more