Steve and Sean Ritzhaupt are the sons of Don and Mindy, a former Edward Jones adviser. The family lived south of North Robinson.
Steve played football, basketball and baseball at Colonel Crawford and remembers Mike Cauley and Dan Gorbett as good coaches, good men and good examples. Steve was president of senior choir and also sang in the Epworth Church choir.
After graduation in 1988, he went to Ohio State University and graduated in 1993 with a degree in business finance.
Next, he interviewed with Edward Jones and was hired in its branch in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he trained to be a financial adviser. The company often would fly him in and out of St. Louis for advanced training.
Love blooms over country music trivia
On one of those trips, while dining with friends, he met Michelle Minton, a young teacher. She was out with her friends, minding her own business. Steve overheard them trying to remember a song. He says he’s a trivia guy full of useless information and knew it was an old country song. He leaned over to her table and named the song, which led to their friendship.
Michelle was thinking, “There is no way I’m getting involved, I’m not leaving St. Louis.” She was close to her family and didn’t have any plans to leave and move to Minnesota or Steve’s Ohio.
Steve said, “Let’s just be pen pals” and he was the one who started writing love letters over six months. The relationship was “God Inspired” — meant to be. The family was very hesitant about Michelle heading to Minnesota for a Christmas break visit. Her cousins were friends with St. Louis police officers, and they were going to do background checks on this “Ohio Boy” before she was allowed to go.
After the dinner date in Minnesota, Steve went to St. Louis for training and met her entire family in a cigarette smoke-filled Catholic Church basement. What a shock for this Methodist boy from Ohio. But after meeting Michelle’s family, he decided to stick around.
Opposites, but one where it matters
Not a common thread, they came from very different backgrounds — a country boy and a city girl; she was raised Lutheran and her big family was Catholic. But they had the same heart for God, basically through two different church doctrines. They were the benefactors of a strong faith passed down from their grandparents.
Michelle’s grandma, Annabelle, was the heart of the family; she meant business, but she had a heart of gold. Michelle learned Annabelle knew was what was important: God, then family, and all the rest was extra blessings. When she passed she didn’t have a dime, but every person in the family was around her, a testament to who she was. That’s how Michelle wants to be known, too.
Steve was still living in Minnesota and obviously passed family scrutiny because on the fourth date he asked Michelle to marry him. Six months after his proposal he moved to St. Louis and, instead of being a financial adviser, he worked in the headquarters in management and designed computer systems.
Grandpa’s daily devotions was a mainstay
The couple married in a Baptist church just nine months after first meeting. Both feel God doesn’t care what denomination you belong to as long as you have a personal relationship with him. The irony is they’ve changed churches a few times since; wherever God leads them, now back to the Methodist Church where it all started for the Ritzhaupts.
A huge part of Steve’s religious life was watching his grandpa, Guy Ritzhaupt’s, daily devotion. The day began with a bowl of cornflakes, a dash of coffee over it, his Bible and “The Upper Room” devotional. Later, Grandma Persis made sure Steve got the latest copy of “The Upper Room” while he was in college.
Grandpa never missed church and wouldn’t start a tractor to work on Sunday, according to God’s rules. Grandpa and Persis were very active in the church, and Steve saw how much they were blessed from it. Guy later had a heart attack on a Sunday morning while going to Epworth Church. He fell to the steps, and later the attack was the cause of his death.
Guy received a commendation from the Ohio Senate in 1976 for driving 47 years, longer than any other bus driver in Ohio. First, he drove the North Robinson horse-drawn wagon (school bus) starting when he was a sophomore. He transported three generations and some 5,000 students, including when the school consolidated into Colonel Crawford.
Life was changing for Steve and Michelle, too. She taught school for seven years, and it was four years after their marriage that their first child was born. She always had a goal of being a stay-at-home mom.
Back home in Ohio, what she recalls “brainwashing,” Steve recalls just being honest. Gift packages were being sent to St. Louis with a “clear cut message” in them — Colonel Crawford, Bucyrus and Ohio State are the best.
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