If you’re trying to list the nonprofits that Jerry and Peggy Ritter have been involved with—either by serving on the board, chairing a gala, or providing all-around support—you might want to sharpen your pencil first, because it’s going to be a long list. But they’re quick to note that they are only two among many who are working to make St. Louis a better place.
“We’ve been fortunate to raise our children in the St. Louis community, and it’s a wonderful place to do that,” Peggy says. “It’s a very generous community, probably one of the most generous in the U.S.” Though Peggy originally is from Hannibal, Mo., and Jerry is a native of Poteau, Okla., the Ritters have lived here through their entire married lives. Jerry worked for 28 years at Anheuser-Busch, where he served as executive VP, chief financial and administrative officer before retiring in 1996. He then became chairman of the board of Clark Enterprises Inc. until the sale of the St. Louis Blues in 1999.
“When I was engaged in my job and Peggy was mainly concerned with raising our daughters, we didn’t have as much of an opportunity to give back as we would like,” Jerry says. “In recent years, we’ve had more opportunities, and it’s been very enjoyable.” He is a trustee and past president of the board of commissioners at the Saint Louis Science Center, serves on the board of directors and as chair of the capital campaign for Webster University, and is involved with Ranken Technical College. “I’m impressed with what they bring to the education environment here in St. Louis,” Jerry says of Ranken. The couple also is involved with Miriam School, having served as co-chairs for the school’s 2010 capital campaign.
Peggy herself is currently involved in more than a half dozen boards. She has been on the board of commissioners for the Saint Louis Art Museum since 2006, and says she is excited about the current expansion project. She also has been a member of the Zoo Association board of trustees and Dance St. Louis and Sheldon Concert Hall boards for many years. Peggy also has a great fondness for her work with Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. Her father was a physician, and a friend of Dr. Peter Danis, who founded the hospital. Peggy herself trained as a medical technician, so she felt a particular connection with the hospital’s work. “The first charity I did anything with—apart from the girls’ schools—was with the Glennon Guild,” she recalls. She became one of the founding members of the Bob Costas Celebrity Dinner Benefit Committee for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, which raises approximately $1 million each year. “It’s been a great success, thanks to Bob,” she says. “He’s been the catalyst behind the whole thing, and it’s great fun to work on.” Jerry also is deeply involved at the hospital, having served as president of the board of governors. “Peggy pulled me in initially,” he says. “We’ve had children stay there on various occasions, and it’s unbelievable what they do with young children.”
Of course, all of this wholehearted involvement in so many causes begs the question: How do you find the time? As Peggy humbly notes, “It does take up a lot of time, and sometimes it’s a juggling issue. If there are two meetings at the same time, you have to make a judgment as to which is more important to attend that day. But if you enjoy it, you make it work.” LN