A Brief Biography

Jan was born on August 11, 1956, the youngest of four siblings and fourteen cousins. She grew up surrounded and shaped by the love of her family. Jan also grew up deeply involved in church community, which formed her faith and deep love for God.

In high school and college she became an excellent clarinet player, performing and traveling as a top musician at Lamar University. She also brought her excellence and creativity to her work in the music department at Lamar, Florida College Dry Creek Camp, and other various administrative positions throughout life.  

A woman of courage, Jan volunteered as a covert informant for the FBI, traveled to Russia to support the work of a local church there, and wrote award winning poetry and short stories. She brought love, thoughtfulness, and vibrancy to all of her pursuits.

Jan committed most of her adult life to loving and raising her sons, Brent and Drew, and imparting her signature creativity to them. As her health made work more challenging, Jan continued to love and serve others by making photo tributes and writing playful and reflective poetry. She had long friendships, a deep faith, and loved her family to the very end.

Throughout her life she constantly said: “With God the rainbow is always bigger than the storm.”

The Early Years

By Dennis Ritchie, her older brother -

Jan was born into the Ritchie-Badgett family in Port Arthur, TX in 1956 as the youngest of four Ritchie siblings and fourteen Badgett cousins. From the earliest age she was immersed in family, most of whom lived in and around Port Arthur. It was a blessing for her to grow up in the midst of a loving, caring family where she had wonderful examples of love, dedication, and commitment that helped to shape her life and character.

From the beginning, Jan began attending church services with her family at the church that her grandfather helped to plant in the early 1900s. There and with her family she learned the importance of spiritual things and this influence continued and grew throughout her life.

Jan talked much about her formative years on 5th Street in Port Arthur where many of her most cherished memories were made. She shared a bedroom with her older sister Linda from whom she learned how the older children lived. Jan attended DeQueen Elementary School in Port Arthur through the fourth grade. It was appropriately located directly across the street from her beloved Grandma Badgett’s house. This was the same school that her mother and all her siblings attended. She even had some of the same teachers as her siblings.

Jan moved with her immediate family to Nederland in 1966 where she completed her elementary, Jr. High, and High school education. Although in some ways this was a difficult move for her, she continued to share a room with Linda until she graduated from college and moved away and enjoyed the same church which provided continuity and stability while she made new friends and memories. While in Nederland, Jan began playing in the band, something she loved to do and continued into college.

The College Years

By Junelle Gatza, her dear friend and sister in Christ -

Jan and I met in the All-Region Band when we were in High School.  I was second chair and she was first.  She loved playing the clarinet and she was very competitive!  After discovering that we were both members of the Lord’s church, our friendship deepened.  We attended Lamar University (she was one year ahead of me) where we both played clarinet in the bands.  Jan loved the LU Marching Band and she really enjoyed attending the games and performing. We made numerous trips with both the Marching Band and the Wind Ensemble.  She was always so bubbly and excited on our trips and had that cute little laugh!  Jan was very dedicated to the Lamar University Music Department where she served as the Band Secretary for a number of years. Everyone depended on Jan to run things smoothly.

Once we both married (she was a bridesmaid in my wedding) and began our families, we continued to stay in touch. My husband and I would make trips to Houston to visit her and her family. One of my greatest memories is how excited she was at Christmastime!  She loved this time of year! We would go looking at Christmas lights and visit the Christmas Store.  She loved her sweet boys and was so proud of them as they grew. She loved to talk on the phone and “catch up” with all the important events in our lives.

As we aged, we both ended up caring for our mothers with Alzheimer’s.  Jan was a devoted daughter and spent countless hours with her mother. Jan gave so much of herself to others until her health prevented her from doing the things she wanted to do. I will always remember her example of service to others.

Her Church Family

By Debbie Hudgins, her dear friend and sister in Christ -

Jan loved being a part of the church at Alief and later Alston Road. She trusted and loved her church family and was always willing to give back. She once taught a children's class but that group were quite the rascals so she left that to others after that.

She hosted group meetings for many years. Jan always loved seeing all the new babies and attending baby showers. She spent many years joining the ladies for the annual beach retreat where lifelong friendships were made and nurtured.

Jan thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Florida College Dry Creek Camp each year and was a valuable member of the planning team. She was the secretary for the camp for many years as well.  I remember her strong dedication to that job and how proud she was of the camp. She had a great influence on many young Christian lives. At camp, they depended on her to take care of any issues. She was a great problem solver. She also helped with the Singing School for several years.

Each of Jan's boys were one of a large group of kiddos about the same age and there are memories of lots of play dates, trips to the zoo, sharing babysitting duties, and good friendships. There are so many wonderful memories of those years.

She will not be forgotten.