FORT ASHBY, W.Va. — Sixty years and ...
On April 8, 1950, Ritchie and Thelma “Dolly” Sharpless were married at the Walnut Grove Church in Maddensville, Pa., by the Rev. Grieder. Her parents, Harry and Gladys Sunderland, were their witnesses.
Dolly was born on Feb. 15, 1934, in Saltillo, Pa., to Harry and Gladys (Shore) Sunderland. For her first birthday (exactly to the day), her parents blessed her with a younger brother, Don. They grew up together on a farm in Saltillo until she married Ritchie.
Although Dolly was completely adept at maintaining a home, farmwork was in her blood. It was not uncommon for her to mow and rake the hay on their Mount Zion farm, as well as her in-laws’ farm on Kitzmiller Hill, so that the baling could be done as soon as Ritchie got home from work. Dolly worked outside the home for a short while as an inspector for the USDA. She continues to be a great cook, and quite capable of preparing a meal for an army. Dolly always has something good to serve her guests and won’t allow anyone to leave hungry.
Dolly and Ritchie share a love of music and still sing together frequently in beautiful harmony. She has a penchant for gambling on occasion and attributes her luck (or misfortune) to whether Ritchie knows about her “game of chance” before or after she wins or loses. She became an accomplished, avid bowler and has maintained that status for many years, traveling across the country to participate in tournaments. Ritchie claims that when he passes from this world, his funeral viewing will have to be on one of the lanes in a bowling alley so that she doesn’t have to “interrupt her game.”
Ritchie was born March 20, 1927, in Vindex, Md., to Herbert and Pearl (Paugh) Sharpless. He was born the fourth of 10 children growing up in a three-bedroom house on a farm in Mount Zion, Md. At the age of 15 he graduated from Kitzmiller High School; teachers wanted him out. He joined the army at 18, serving in Germany at the end of World War II. After his discharge, he took a job at Buffalo Tank Corporation in Baltimore.
Because of their shared love of music, Ritchie made fast friends with a man named Leroy “Buck” Sunderland, who happened to be Dolly’s uncle. One summer, while Dolly was visiting her uncle, Ritchie dropped by to play music and he met the dark- haired beauty who would soon become his wife.
Dolly and Ritchie bought a farm on Dan’s Mountain in Westernport, which brought them closer to his home. He started what would become a career as a tinsmith at the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Mill in Luke. The couple later bought a farm in Mount Zion, where Ritchie considered himself to be a “gentleman farmer,” with a few head of cattle on 120 acres.
Ritchie retired from Westvaco in 1989 after 32 years.
Dolly and Ritchie loved to travel and eventually fulfilled their goal to visit every state in the nation except Hawaii (Ritchie does not fly!).
In 1992, the couple decided to move off the mountain to Fort Ashby, where the winters were “a little milder.”
Ritchie has a beautiful tenor voice and is a self–taught musician with the ability to play any stringed instrument. He loves “tinkering” but is an accomplished woodworker, sheet metal worker and an all-around “fix-it” man who has yet to meet a challenge he cannot master. Ritchie is a historian, with a particular affinity for the Civil War. A southern sympathizer who believes “The south will rise again,” he and Dolly participated for years in the civil war re-enactments in the tri-state area.
Family has always been important to Ritchie and Dolly, which is evidenced by the willingness of each to provide loving support for both families. After Ritchie’s father’s death in 1976, he and Dolly moved to what was then the family home on Kitzmiller Hill. This afforded as much comfort for him as he hopes it did for his mother. Several years later, they left their home again, this time to live with Dolly’s mom with the same goal in mind.
Ritchie and Dolly are the parents of three extremely proud daughters, Carol “Cookie” Newman of Oakland; Wilma Wagoner of LaVale; and Lucinda “Cindy” Sharpless of Swanton. They have nine grandchildren and 11 great-granchildren, all who love and respect them as the “lighthouse” of the family.
We, the family of this wonderful, tenacious couple, wish to congratulate them on their 60 years of marriage and thank them for giving us parents and grandparents to be proud of.
FORT ASHBY, W.Va. — Sixty years and ...
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