Charles C. Ritter, a prominent businessman, retired college professor and avid sportsman, died Tuesday in his East Amherst home. He was 71.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Ritter graduated from the University of Buffalo with bachelor's and master's degrees in biology. He also completed graduate studies in microbiology at North Carolina State and Duke universities before returning to Buffalo in 1966 to become professor of microbiology at Erie Community College, a position he held for more than 35 years.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Ritter formed R-R Baktron, a medical testing laboratory. The business grew rapidly and was later sold to Scott Laboratories.
Mr. Ritter remained active as a manager of Scott Labs until the 1990s. In the late 1970s, he purchased a controlling interest in Zenner & Ritter Inc., a heating and cooling company founded by the Ritter family in the 1930s. Under Mr. Ritter's management, Zenner & Ritter grew to become Western New York's largest residential HVAC contractor.
A lifelong Free Mason, Mr. Ritter was member of Erie Parish United Masonic Lodge 161. Mr. Ritter's greatest passion was hunting and fishing with family and friends. In 1993, he established a family retreat and hunting lodge in Centerville.
In 1991, he became a member and a director of the century-old Duquesne Hunting & Fishing Club in Britt, Ont., and was instrumental in overseeing the management and growth of the club, which operates a private fishing camp on several islands in a remote area of the Georgian Bay's 30,000-island region.
Survivors include his wife of 44 years, the former Barbara Koch; three sons, Charles Jr., Christopher and Brian; and a sister, Dona Hue Ritter-Schmidt.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Amherst Community Church, 77 Washington Highway, Snyder.