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Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces generous bequest from J. Timothy Ritchie
Valparaiso, IN
02/08/2018 09:12 AM

Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces that it has received a generous bequest from the estate of Dune Acres resident J. Timothy Ritchie. Ritchie died on August 14, 2017 at the age of 79. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he received an undergraduate degree from Yale University, and a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Law School. After a long and successful career at the Northern Trust Bank, he retired in 1998. Ritchie enjoyed travel, opera, reading, hiking, golf and the daily crossword puzzle of multiple newspapers. He was a patron of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Santa Fe Opera and the Chicago Symphony. He served on the board of Openlands, a land conservation organization in northeast Illinois, and also on the board of the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Ritchie’s connection to the natural environment began during childhood visits to his family’s cabin in the woods along the shore of Lake Superior. “I fell in love with nature during that time”, he once recounted. He and his partner, the late J. Richard Brannon, became involved with Shirley Heinze Land Trust by attending the organization’s ‘spring fling’ hikes that were organized by Dune Acres resident and life board member Barbara Plampin. She remembers that “they loved the walks and learning about the local environment. They were impressed by the work of Shirley Heinze to preserve these treasures.” Brannon, who died in 2014, also left a gift to the organization in his estate.

“This astounding gift from Tim has affected me deeply,” says Board member Anne Walsh. “In this last loving and generous gesture, he has opened up a world of possibilities for Shirley Heinze Land Trust. It has also given the organization a secure footing far into the future. The action he took will be an inspiration for me and for all of us to advance the work of stewarding precious natural areas for all to enjoy in northwestern Indiana.”

Executive Director Kristopher Krouse says, “Timothy's contributions to the conservation community in his lifetime were quite remarkable. With this gift he will continue to protect natural areas in our region beyond his lifetime. We will be ever grateful, and look forward to honoring Timothy's legacy by further advancing our mission with this extraordinary gift.” 

Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has protected, restored and maintained northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat. More than 2,400 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit. Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature. Five of its properties have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves. The organization also works to educate people of all ages to appreciate the importance of land conservation, and to experience the natural wonders of this unique region. Its work is accomplished through a partnership of volunteers, donors, and professionals.

For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit, call (219) 242-8558, or access its Facebook page at

Barbara Labus
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