Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 31, 2013

In mourning

A time of grief and memories for an 'amazing person'

In countless ways big and small, Colleen Ritzer of Andover, a teacher in Danvers, was remembered over the past week by those who knew her and many more who didn’t but wish they had.

At a night field hockey game between Danvers and Andover last Friday, a pink sign on poster board was tacked to the outside of the concession stand: A ribbon drawn in black magic marker was underscored with the words “Ritzer Strong.”

At Fenway Park during the opening game of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals last Wednesday night, a moment of silence was held in Ritzer’s honor while the giant scoreboard flashed a smiling image of Ritzer, the name of her hometown, and the age she died: 24.

For people who knew her, the week following her murder allegedly at the hands of one of her 14-year-old math students at Danvers High School was filled with as much grief as unanswered questions.

Joe Spanos, a retired Andover High School teacher who taught Ritzer, said he cried when he heard the news.

“She was a great student,” he said, adding that she was in his TV production class, even working as a teaching assistant for a while. “She always wanted to be a teacher.”

Close friend Jennifer Berger, who graduated with Ritzer and kept in touch with her right up to the weekend before her death, tried to stress the positive.

“She was just an amazing person who loved life,” said Berger, who graduated with Ritzer. The two went to elementary and middle school together and hung out the weekend before her death, watching the Red Sox game on TV.

“She was so kind and caring,” Berger said. “She could find joy in the littlest things in life. If she was having a bad day, she would find a quote from a song that would turn it around. I just want people to know how amazing she was. ... She was my go-to best friend. I just can’t believe she is gone.”

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