Wearing their daughter’s favorite color of pink as they addressed the conviction of her killer, the parents of Colleen E. Ritzer on Tuesday vowed to make sure that she is remembered for the kindness she showed in life.
Dressed in a brightly striped tie, Her father Tom Ritzer said family members know they will have to endure other hearings, appeals, and parole requests as the case of Philip D. Chism continues.
“There can never be true justice for the crime that was committed,” he said.
Nonetheless, Tom Ritzer said loved ones— mother Peggie and siblings Dan and Laura were there as well — are entering “a new phase” in their lives following Chism’s conviction.
“Colleen never gave up and neither will we,” Tom Ritzer said. “We will not allow Colleen’s death to define how she is remembered.”
Ritzer, who grew up in Andover and taught algebra at Danvers High School, was 24 when Chism — then a 14-year-old freshman — raped and killed her on Oct. 22, 2013.
Tom Ritzer noted that the reaction to her death has demonstrated by the “remarkable difference that Colleen made in her short life.”
Family and friends have encouraged people to honor her legacy with good deeds. This fall, loved ones honored the second anniversary of her death by asking Internet users to perform random acts of kindness and share them online using the hashtag #Kindness4Colleen.
Family members have also instituted a scholarship fund in her honor. The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund has given out thousands of dollars in educational help to high school students in Danvers and Andover.
The scholarship recruited applicants in 2015 who planned to study education at a four-year college. Ritzer had long been interested in education before she joined the field. She graduated from Assumption College in 2011 and began teaching at Danvers High School in September of 2012.
Peggie Ritzer wore a pink scarf with white polka dots as she spoke following the verdict. She said the family continues to be inspired by Colleen, who often said, “There is something good in every day.”
“We will carry on and do our best to find the good in every day,” Peggie Ritzer said.
In a statement, Danvers schools superintendent Lisa Dana said she hoped the verdict would help the family continue to heal.
“We know Colleen’s message, ‘No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good is a wonderful legacy to leave behind,’ will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved her,” Dana said.Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.