10/12/2018 10:24:00 AM RHS alumnus donates signed Rockwell prints to Unit 2 schools
Robinson High School graduate Wynn Ritch donated three signed Norman Rockwell prints to RHS and Lincoln Elementary School Friday. From left are student Laura Rios, Ritch, students Isabelle Brown and Levi Hodge. (Tom Compton photo)
A Robinson High School alumnus has returned to his hometown with a surprising - and artistic - donation for local schools.
Wynn Ritch, RHS Class of 1963, presented Robinson Unit 2 Superintendent Josh Quick, RHS principal Victoria McDonald and Lincoln Elementary School principal Kathy Bemont with three prints of classic Saturday Evening Post covers signed by legendary artist Norman Rockwell.
On Friday, RHS received "The Cheerleaders" and "The Coin Toss," while LES was given "The Teacher." Each bears the signature of their creator, the premiere cover artist for the Post for decades.
"We're grateful an RHS graduate has made a gift back to us," Quick said. "They're pieces of history we appreciate having."
Quick added he also appreciated the chance to talk to Ritch and learn of his experiences in Robinson schools.
Ritch said "things were happening" during his youth here.
"The Heath plant was making candy bars and Pepsi, the Pottery was making toilets, the Marathon refinery was making gasoline," he explained. "It was a typical Norman Rockwell community to grow up in."
Ritch became Robinson's first Eagle Scout in 1960. Later, whe his parents broke up he wanted to join the Marine Corps, but his uncle talked him into staying in school and getting his diploma instead.
After graduation, however, he joined the Corps and served two tours in Vietnam. After returning to the States, Ritch collected his wife and baby brother Brad and set out for California.
He graduated from California State Uiversity in Dominguez Hills in 1972 and went to work for the Boy Scouts of America. He remained with the organization until retirement 32 years later.
In 1979, while participating in a BSA executive training program at the Schiff Scouting Reservation in New Jersey, Ritch met Rockwell. The official artist of BSA at the time, Rockwell was painting a group of handicapped scouts for the annual Boy's Life magazine calendar. Seeing Rockwell at work inspired Ritch to collect his works. He bought his first signed Rockwell in San Francisco in 1991 for $5,000. He now has more than 200 signed pieces.
"To me, Norman Rockwell was America," Ritch said in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News in January.
At the time, he and his wife, Rosemary, were raising money for the neuromuscular center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles by selling some of his prized artwork. Their granddaughter, Sara, goes to the center for treatments for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Now, Ritch is giving back to the Robinson schools he once attended. The sports-related art is fitting for RHS, considering he lettered in football and golf there. The subject of "The Teacher" seems suitable for LES as she has the typical look of the teachers who worked there when he was a student.
Ritch is past president of the Half Moon Bay Rotary Club and Greater Van Nuys Rotary Club, Burbank Noon Kiwanis Club, North Hollywood Optimist Club and past district lieutenant governor Division 16, San Fernando Valley.
He is also a life member of the VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Marine Corps League. Presently, he is serving on the Board of Western Los Angeles County BSA, DAV and Rotary.