On Thursday, January 5th of 2017, Jim Riccitelli was admitted to the hospital due to a bad case of pneumonia. He was discharged several days later, but his condition worsened and he was taken to the emergency room the following day. He received the best of care, but his condition continued to worsen, and he passed away in his sleep, early this morning (Saturday, January 28th, 2017).
His wife Ruth is doing as well as can be expected. She's surrounded by friends, neighbors, and members of her Church. As I write this, her children are on their way to her home.
Pastor Jim was a great man. He and Ruth served as missionaries in Burkina Faso, Africa for over ten years, where they ministered to the Red Bobo tribe. Jim and Ruth had to learn the native language, which is tonal - anything you can say in Red Bobo, you can also whistle - then Jim invented a written language for the tribe as they had none. He translated the New Testament into Red Bobo and taught the tribe to read.
Upon returning to the United States, Jim started The Berean Fellowship Church in Point Place where he served as Pastor for 25 years. His sermons included a question and answer session; in other words, if you didn't understand something or you had a question, you could raise your hand in the middle of the sermon and your question would be answered. All Jim's sermons were teaching sermons, focused on understanding the Word of the Lord.
When he retired, he was called into service at Bethany Community Fellowship Church in Sylvania, Ohio, which is where I met him. Pastor Jim led me to accept the Lord into my life on Thursday, August 18th, 2005. I was baptized shortly thereafter, and a few days later Pastor Jim and Ruth agreed to become my godparents.
Pastor Jim retired (his third retirement) and he and Ruth moved to Ft. Meyers, Florida, where Jim was called out of retirement again to serve as minister of music. In between ministries, he finished his most recent book, Authenticate Your Faith.
I shall miss Pastor Jim terribly, but I'll see him again in Heaven, and I wouldn't wish him back into this lousy world for anything.
Edit: Another writer has posted a missive about Pastor Jim, which you can read here: Remembering Pastor Jim