Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012

Work? Not for Ritter

Alumna Yvonne RitterWhen Yvonne Ritter ’67, ’73, completed her master’s degree in English in 1973, she faced an important decision. She could pursue a Ph.D. and continue teaching college, as she had done on a fellowship at Lamar for the two previous years, or she could try something new. With her children at home and her husband, Ken, serving as Beaumont’s mayor at the time, Ritter did not view continuing in academia as a practical choice. Instead, she decided to obtain her real estate license and become an entrepreneur.

“It was the best decision that I ever made for my life,” Ritter said. “I wish everyone could be as fortunate as I have been to find work that is so fulfilling and profitable, too, from an economic standpoint. It’s been a great career. When they say that it’s not like work, that’s what I’ve experienced for almost 40 years. I went to work because I wanted to, because I enjoyed every minute of it. I found the right match.”

Ritter went to work for DuPerier Real Estate and sold her first house in September 1973, just after earning her real estate license. After five years in sales and a move to American Real Estate, she rose to sales management. Less than 10 years after becoming an agent, she and others purchased American Real Estate, where she has spent the rest of her career. She now serves as president of the company and has one partner.

Although her job changed, Ritter never really left education behind. She quickly worked to earn a variety of real estate certifications—Graduate Realtor Institute, Certified Residential Specialist, Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager, Accredited Buyers Representative—and dedicated her time to teaching new agents the business.

“I really enjoy mentoring people,” Ritter said. “I’ve brought a lot of people into the business over the years and have enjoyed tremendously watching their growth.” Many leaders in Southeast Texas real estate can thank Ritter for getting them started in the profession.

She credits her liberal arts education at Lamar with providing the tools she needed for success. “I spend my time writing, talking, teaching classes, conducting meetings, communicating. Every day I’m writing something,” she said, gesturing to a policy and procedures manual on her desk, awaiting revisions. “My liberal arts education has absolutely been the greatest help in a real estate career. I have found it so applicable to what I do as a business person.”

Ritter has given her time to a number of professional and community organizations over the years, including serving as president of the Beaumont Board of Realtors in 1986 and as president of the Lamar University Alumni Board from 1987-88. The time she was able to devote to community service, however, was curtailed when her husband, Ken, became ill with Lewy Body Dementia in the early 1990s. He died at home in 2007.

Prior to his illness, the Ritters enjoyed traveling together, in part through her professional affiliations. Active membership in the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) took Ritter to international meetings with behind-the-scenes tours of London, Jerusalem and parts of Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Australia. When Ken served as Beaumont mayor from 1970-78, she often accompanied him on business trips across the country. They also enjoyed annual trips to the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville through his work in the music business.

Now, after 40 years as a leader in Southeast Texas real estate, Ritter has reached another crossroads. She plans to retire this year and looks forward to travel and spending more time with family, especially her son, Mark Ritter -80. Finding fulfilling volunteer work is also on the horizon.

“I’m sure I will look back on it all and say how did I ever have time to work. I know that I will be just as involved in whatever I’m doing as I have been in my real estate career,” Ritter said. “I’m just not one to stay home.”

by Beth Gallaspy

May 2012