It is with sadness that we recognize the loss of our dear friend and Eco-Steward Joanna Rittmann. A few weeks ago, Joanna died in an automobile accident near her home in Louisville, Kentucky. A moving memorial service and burial, attended by some of our Eco-Stewards, were held in her beloved Braxton County in West Virginia. A second memorial service was held at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where Joanna was pursuing a Master’s of Divinity degree.
We are grateful for the beautiful week we spent with Joanna during the Eco-Stewards Program in May. It was a gift to witness Joanna’s joy in reconnecting with the landscape and people of her native West Virginia. Joanna shared so much with us that week: prayer, song, photography and a passionate commitment to earth stewardship.
In her words from an earlier post on this blog, Joanna wrote: “Care for one’s environment is care for those with whom you share it. It is care for the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer’s work in and through us and all of creation. We all need each other to survive. A Bible verse comes to mind, Romans 8:22: ‘For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now’… I hope to learn how to lessen the groan caused by the negative behaviors of the human race and how to live more simply.”
Today, we offer this prayer to Joanna and her family: God of the mountains, we are grateful for your servant and daughter, Joanna. We pray that your light perpetual will shine upon her, and her family – especially her husband Jimmy, and mother Arbutus. We know she is now safely in your loving arms. Be with all of us who miss her, and may we have the courage she had to live out our convictions with passion and grace – especially in the caring of this your planet. As it was in the beginning, O God, so in the end may your gift be born, so in the end may your gift of life be born. In Christ we pray, AMEN.
Below, please find Joanna’s obituary and a slideshow from the 2010 Eco-Stewards Program:
Joanna Marie Rittmann, “Free Spirited and Loyal, Loving and Loved”, 24, of Louisville, KY , formerly of Frametown, WV passed away June 24, 2010 in an automobile accident.
Joanna was born Septmeber 28, 1985 to Arbutus Hooton Hudnall and Johnny Hudnall of Frametown, WV. She was preceded in death by her father, Johnny Hudnall.
She is survived by husband, Jimmy Rittmann of Louisville, KY; mother, Arbutus Hudnall of Frametown, WV; brother, Kevin Hudnall and wife, Sandy of Graham, NC; sister, Beverly Moore and husband, Bobby of Frametown, WV.
Joanna graduated from Braxton County High School in 2004. She also achieved a History Major and Religion Minor at Berea College in 2008. Joanna was a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary earning her Master of Divinity. Joanna was passionate about environmental and social justice, music, and Biblical Hebrew.
Service will be 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 30 at Richard M. Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway, WV with Rev. Lewis Brogden officiating. Burial will be in the Braxton County Cemetery, Suton, WV.
Friends may call from 10 a.m. till time of service at the funeral home.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held 4 p.m., Saturday, July 3, 2010 at Caldwell Chapel at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary Campus.