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Obituaries » James Freeman Rittenhouse III

James Freeman Rittenhouse III

March 31, 2017


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James Freeman Rittenhouse III died in his sleep on March 31, 2017, after nine months of progressive illness. Freeman was born on August 4, 1936, in Akron, Indiana, to James F. Rittenhouse Jr. and Rennie Strayhorn Rittenhouse. He was raised in Elkhart, Indiana, where he graduated from high school. His childhood dream was to be a fighter pilot. Unable to pursue that dream because of his nearsighted vision, he decided that if he couldn’t fly them, he’d build them. That led him to pursue a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University, where he graduated in 1957. Upon graduation, he accepted a position at Marquardt in Van Nuys, CA, and later went on to work at Aeronutronic of Newport Beach, CA; McDonnell-Douglas of Long Beach, CA; Aerojet Solid Propulsion Company of Sacramento, CA; Morton-Thiokol of Utah; and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. He was recruited for the advance design team for the Space Shuttle Booster Redesign Program after the Challenger disaster in 1986. In 1970, he received his Masters of Aerospace Science from the University of Southern California. In 1963, Freeman met and married Lila Patton at the North Hollywood United Methodist Church. They have two children: Philip Rittenhouse (wife Corrine) of Newbury Park, CA, and Diane Rittenhouse (husband Charles Sakai) of Larkspur, CA. They have three grandchildren: Brandon, Peter, and Katie Sakai of Larkspur, CA. Freeman was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Dixie Wenner. He is survived by his sister Ann Mickel (husband Joe) of Columbus, Indiana, and numerous nieces and nephews. Known as “Ritt” among some of his friends, he had many hobbies. He built his home in Fair Oaks, CA. He built a steam car in the early 1970s. He was an active member of Classic Corvairs of River City and the Sacramento Jaguar Club. He loved history and World War II movies. He was a member of the Fork Tail Devils and an avid enthusiast of the P-38 Lightning. He built a myriad of bicycles for his grandkids and neighborhood children. He was a member of the Fair Oaks United Methodist Church. He will always be remembered for his humor, generosity, enthusiasm and dedication to family and friends. After 40 years in Fair Oaks, CA, Freeman and Lila recently relocated to Larkspur, CA, to be closer to family. Per his request, no services will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Fair Oaks United Methodist Church 9849 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.