There are a lot of hard days in this life. Arnie Ditch was the kind of man who made any day easier for those he knew and loved, of whom there were a thankful many in the communities of Jones and Delaware counties and beyond.
Arlan "Arnie" Howard Ditch, who always carried a sparkle in his eye and a sharp one-liner at the ready, passed away Sunday morning, Aug. 14, 2016, at his home in Monticello. He was 82.
The son of Ralph and Florence Ditch, Arnie was born on Dec. 31, 1933, and raised in Anamosa. He attended Anamosa High School, where he avidly pursued what would become a lifetime passion for sports. He was a tall, lean and graceful athlete who played guard on the basketball team and running back for the football squad, both in high school and afterward at Parsons College. After obtaining his degree in education, he launched his career as a teacher and coach in Central City.
In 1956, he married the love of his life, his high school sweetheart and beautiful Irish bride, Madonna Rose Burke. Once together, they moved to Manchester to start a family. For the next three decades, Arnie taught science and coached various sports in Manchester schools, where he eventually also served as athletic director and driver education teacher extraordinaire (he was a famously patient man). Arnie and Madonna were happily, even boisterously, married for 46 years, raising five children and becoming grandparents to 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They moved to Monticello in the late 1990s to be closer to more of their ever-burgeoning clan.
Even after Madonna's passing at the age of 68 in 2002, Arnie's love for life remained undiminished. He doted on his grandchildren and rarely missed any of games in which any of the kids who were raised locally played. He also traveled far and wide to spend time with his grandkids who did not grow up in Iowa, spending time in Texas, California and Indiana.
Arnie remained a sports fanatic all his life, but he truly was an avid fan of everything his kids and grandkids got up to. He loved cheap beer and dive bars and "Driving Miss Daisy" (not necessarily in that order). In recent years, he enjoyed much of this with his partner in crime, Bev Frankfurt.
Arnie Ditch will be remembered especially as a loyal friend, a devoted and generous father and grandfather, and for his keen sense of humor and relentless quick-wittedness. Through his open-hearted kindness, grace and quiet strength, Arnie served as pillar for his family even in the face of loss, both after Madonna's death and later the untimely passing of his grandson, Brady Michael McDermott. He also was preceded in death by his siblings, Terry Ditch, Jeff Ditch and Judy Keating.
He is survived by daughters, Cindy (Dave Petratis) of Indianapolis, Debbie (Denny McDermott) of Monticello and Ann (Bill Merritt) of Anamosa; son, Casey Ditch (Christina) of Anamosa and Kyle Ditch of Scotch Grove; grandchildren, Terese Petratis, Natalie (Brooks Reed) and Claire, Kellie and Megan McDermott, Macki, J.C. and Gracie Ditch, Garrett, Kyle, Brian and Aly; three great-grandchildren, Stella, Collin and Scarlett; and his sister, Connie Meade, Anamosa.
Visitation: 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at Goettsch Funeral Home, 514 W. First St., Monticello, IA 52310. A Celebration of Arnie will take place Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Monticello Golf Club, 528 N. Maple St., with a service from 4 to 5 p.m. with music, dinner and drinks to follow.
Thoughts, memories and condolences may be left at www.goettschonline.com.
Posted on Tuesday, 16 August 2016