BILL RITTER, JR
6/11/1967 - 5/2/1994
We had worried for weeks about our, Bill, first-born and oldest by seven years. Bill had a brilliant mind, but he had recently been troubled of spirit, never more than since his termination from a law firm that previous January. Though he could perform the tasks demanded, he fell short of the speed required, or so they said. As an attorney, argumentation was his long suit. The preparation of briefs, however, was his short one. Then age twenty-seven, Bill had been diagnosed with adult attention deficit disorder. That diagnosis answered twenty years’ worth of questions for him and for us. Teachers, finding him unfocused, blamed it on the boredom often associated with the gifted and nudged him into accelerated academic programs for others like himself. And while Bill was able to solve complicated problems, debate teachers at the drop of a hat and memorize (photographically, it seemed) entire books of baseball statistics, he read few novels, wrote fewer essays, and learned the art of enrolling in classes where grades would be determined by short-answer testing.
He mastered law school through study groups, and his election to “moot court” reflected an elevated class standing. He prepped for the bar exam using audio tapes, and an extended internship won him kudos from the seasoned attorneys of a large automotive manufacturer. But he needed to learn litigation, so he joined a small firm, which promptly dispatched him to the library where his light did not shine. So mere months after starting, he was finished. First with the firm. Then with his life.But failure was not in his plan. He had purchased the gun with foresight, and attended to other details with a thoroughness not commonly associated with his nature. He had gone with friends to Chicago for a wedding (where, according to his buddies, he had been his old self, even to the point of taking the stage at a karaoke bar and singing Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York”). Then, on the ride back to Michigan, he told his best friend how lucky he had been to have the parents he had. And with other futures having been looked after, Bill closed his out.