Notes for Frank Ritter Shumway

A Tribute to F. Ritter Shumway - by Trudi Marrapodi
It is a cliché to say of a prominent person that his accomplishments during
his lifetime were far too numerous to mention. But in the case of F. Ritter
Shumway--minister, corporate executive, community leader, and sportsman, it
is literally true. The most one can hope for is to give some impression of
the role one man played in both the life of Rochester and in the world of
figure skating. You could say that Ritter Shumway was born to become
involved with the Rochester Institute of Technology. His grandfather, Frank
Ritter, was one of the industrialists who helped found its predecessor,
Mechanics Institute, in 1885. After earning a master's degree in divinity
from Oxford University, Ritter became pastor of a Presbyterian church in
Larchmont. His ministry career ended, however, when he returned to Rochester
to join his grandfather's business, the Ritter Company. He was president
from 1951 to 1965, then chairman and CEO (later honorary director) of its
successor, Sybron Corporation. He was also a director of Xerox Corporation,
the Lehman Corporation, and Security Norstar Trust Company, and president of
both the Empire State and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Hettie,
continued the family tie to RIT; he became a trustee and the Shumways became
two of the Institute's greatest benefactors, both in terms of money and
time. One of Rochester's wealthiest men, Ritter used to say that having a
fortune was pointless unless you could benefit someone by giving it away.
His interest in young people and the community led him to leadership in
groups including the YMCA, Boy's and Girl's Clubs, and countless local and
national organizations, to which he generously contributed during his life.
In sports, his love of yachting resulted in his becoming chief commander of
the U.S. Power Squadrons. But no sport seemed to have quite the hold on him
that figure skating did. And in its darkest hour, when U.S. skating needed
literal and spiritual leadership the most, he turned a tragedy into a living
legacy for future skaters. A pond skater as a boy, Ritter first Fell in love
with the sport for good after seeing the Ice Follies in 1939. Following
World War II, he began serious training in ice dancing. A member of several
skating clubs (and eventually president of the Genesee Figure Skating Club,
which he founded in 1955), Ritter passed his U.S. Figure Skating Association
Pre-Gold Dance Test at age 55. Then he went about establishing a record of
adult (over-age 35 division) ice dance titles matched by no one else to this
day. With five different partners, he amassed a total of 53 gold, nine
silver, and four bronze medals in competition. Because he needed a place in
Rochester to train, his financial contributions ensured that RIT's
Ritter-Clark athletic facility on the old downtown campus would include an
ice rink (which was later named for him), and that the new Henrietta campus
would include the arena, named in memory of his grandfather, that the
Genesee Figure Skating Club calls "home." As Ritter progressed in skating,
he also progressed in its administration. He served as a delegate to the
governing council meeting of the U.S. Figure Skating Association in 1953 and
was elected to the executive committee. Later he became involved in dance
committees, and qualified as a national dance judge and referee. In 1959, he
became first vice president and chairman of the USFSA Eastern Committee.
When USFSA president Howard D. Herbert died unexpectedly in 1961, Ritter
became acting president of the governing body of American skating. Less than
a month later, the organization experienced disaster beyond belief. On
February 15, 1961, a plane carrying the entire U.S. world figure skating
team, its coaches and officials, and many family and friends, crashed on its
way to the world championships in Prague. There were no survivors. Relying
on his ministerial training, Ritter rallied the American skating community
in its grief. Determined to create something positive out of a catastrophe
that took the lives of so many promising young people and personal friends,
he proposed the formation of a USFSA Memorial Fund. Money going into the
fund would provide financial assistance to promising American skaters in
memory of those lost. The Fund served to help rebuild the United States as a
world power in figure skating within only a few years of the tragedy. As
USFSA president until 1964 and chairman of the Memorial Fund until his
death, Ritter continued the fund-raising effort. Many veterans of GFSC's
Skating Spectaculars will remember how he roamed the stands of the arena in
search of contributions, his bucket of souvenir patches and buttons at the
ready to reward those who gave. They will also remember how his performances
in each Spectacular--and in exhibitions around the world--with his last
partner, Harlene Lee, presented living proof that skating is a sport for all
ages. Even after he contracted cancer, Ritter didn't hang up his skates
until failing health forced him to retire from the ice late in 1991. When he
died on March 9, 1992, Rochester, RIT, and figure skating lost one of their
greatest champions. The Club's October, 1992, Skating Spectacular was
presented as a tribute to all that Ritter Shumway stood for, both in skating
and in life.

SOURCE: Joel_Eichen (

F. Ritter Shumway, a founder of the Sybron Corp. manufacturing conglomerate, died Monday of cancer at his home in
suburban Brighton. He was 85.

Shumway headed Sybron from its founding in 1968 until his retirement in 1971. He also made millions investing in the
fledgling Haloid Co., which later became Xerox Corp.

Shumway, a graduate of Princeton and Oxford universities, was a Presbyterian minister for two years before joining
Ritter Dental Manufacturing Co., which his grandfather founded. Shumway became president in 1953.

Ritter merged with Pfaudler Permutit in 1965, creating Ritter Pfaudler Co., and the new company merged with Taylor Instruments
in 1968 to create Sybron. Shumway headed both new firms.

Shumway, who denied reports that he was the richest man in Rochester, gave more than $1 million to Rochester Institute of
Technology, which named its skating rink after him.

He also helped found the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund, which supports Olympic training for skaters.

Shumway was an 18-time winner of the Eastern Sectional Championships in figure skating from 1954 to 1977. He and his
longtime ice dance partner, Harlene Lee, won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals in ice dance competitions. He retired
from skating last year.

SOURCE: Buffalo News, The (NY) - March 10, 1992
BURIED: Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe, New York

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