Andrew Louis Rittmaster of Overland Park, KS, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 8th, 2020, at the age of 19.
Andrew (Drew) was born November 20, 2000, in Kansas City, MO. He attended Shawnee Mission South High School and was an avid competitor in the Blue Valley AAA Baseball League.
A talented athlete and artist, Drew’s easy demeanor and bright smile were easily recognizable and often seen at the Tomahawk Elementary basketball court, Mill Creek bike trails, and Shawnee Mission offleash dog park, running lakeside with his beloved rescued dogs Sandie and Truman.
Drew’s love of movies, music, and gaming knew no bounds. His cross-country travels took him to baseball parks and National monuments coast-to-coast. He was an avid adventurer and found joy in awakening to Florida sunrises, Tennessee trails, Chicago avenues, and Bay Area hills. He loved traveling with his cousins, celebrating holidays with his Grandma, and challenging all comers to high-spirited basketball, football and dodgeball games. Area disc golf courses presented no challenge to Drew’s amazing distance and spot-on aim.
Drew was a gifted artist, sketch book at-the-ready. He created an array of worlds, pen-to-paper, that owned an attention to detail admired by all.
Andrew was preceded in death by his mother, Annette Walahoski Rittmaster; grandfathers, David Rittmaster and Tony Walahoski; cousins, Louis Valiente and Anthony Walahoski; and good friend, Chandan Rajanna. He is survived in death by his father, Daniel Rittmaster of Overland Park, KS; his grandmother, JoAnn Walahoski of Overland Park, KS; great-uncle, Louis Rittmaster of Fort Lauderdale, FL; as well as three aunts, four uncles, and seven cousins.
Drew will be cremated. His ashes will be scattered at the places he found joy. A celebration of his life will be held in the Spring, date to be determined.
“No gloom of night, nor darkness, can ever curtail the light of your laughter and glow of your smile. You are free to the world, Drew. Roam as you wish. Brighten our meandering paths with your spirited, comforting light.”
Drew loved his dogs - especially the downtrodden, left behind, rescued mutts that needed a loving home. If you would like to make a donation in Drew's memory for pets in need, please reference https://pawsitivetailskc.org.
Addiction is a relentless and overbearing disease that takes over every aspect of your life. If you would like to make a donation in Drew's memory, please reference the following link: https://overlandparkdrugrehabcenters.com and choose a treatment center.
A Tribute to Andrew
3 years ago, you were throwing strikes, making new friends, bottom-feeding the Honor Roll, and learning to drive a rusted-out Explorer. You had a Girlfriend, 2 dogs you adored, and a network of friends that kept you active all weekend. You kept a clean room, rocked out with your headphones, and took such pride in your lawn work and landscaping. I can still picture you with scissors, lying on the patio’s edge, meticulously cutting where my lawnmower’s blade couldn’t reach; I’d always crack up at your attention to detail, and I’d always smile, knowing that you would one day be someone’s dream come true.
Your baseball tournaments were oftentimes incredibly tense, and I would see you come into the game to pitch, with the weight of the weekend’s fate upon your shoulders. You were seemingly made of ice, mowing down batters and helping your team advance with your resilience and overpowering fastball. So many times I would walk down the first base line, in order to get the best angle of your curveball’s drop, and I would hear your coaches chuckling at the sheer dominance you were displaying to close out a game.
You drove me crazy with your Damned video games, awakening me on Saturday nights, hooting and hollering at your perceived allies and enemies online. When your friends or cousins spent the night, it was a guaranteed “red eye” night for everyone.
I remember the night your mother passed away, and you seemed to know that something was wrong. You took an unusually long nap, and when you awoke, your Aunt Roberta carried you downstairs, and you were so happy and delighted to see that the whole family was gathered. You cooed from her arms, not knowing the weight of our hearts or the tragedy unfolding.
I dropped you off to daycare when you were a baby, and you cried and cried, and I felt terrible, staying in the hallway just long enough to see your teacher distract you with Crayons and a coloring book.
We saw the world: trips to San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Denver, Tampa, Dallas, Atlanta, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Boston, and we NEVER missed an opportunity to visit a ballpark. We experienced so much, and you were such a good traveler. You always carried your markers and your sketch pad, and you always entertained me with dozens of pictures of sharks and alligators. I was probably the least surprised person on the planet when one of your illustrations was published in HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN. You were always a rock star, Drew, and you never failed to impress me.
Our basement was our indoor baseball field, and the back wall was your homerun marker; I threw you thousands of whiffleball pitches, and as you developed, you provided the back wall enough pockmarks to unsettle even seasoned foundation crews. I remember having to install plexiglass over the shelves for fear of the stereo receiving irreversible damage, hanging curtains to protect myself from your hitting.
Your middle school football team and your pass catching was so fun. It truly was the D that carried the team, but you won 2 games by way of your last minute touchdowns. I remember holding the yard marker on the opposing sideline, seeing you come down with the winning score, and having to suppress my pride and exuberance, knowing that we would celebrate later with pizza and friends.
Do you remember the first time you beat me at basketball? I had taken such pride in my ability to outhustle you, but when you turned 17, I got nary a rebound and not a single point. Your reach made me feel helpless, and your drive to the basket was both through and above me. I saw a shadow pass above me as I stood on the ground, watching your lanky frame soar above.
We owned the Mill Creek and Indian Creek Bike Trails, 30-plus mile cruises with our dueling Schwinns, each of us with a backpack owning a SUBWAY sandwich and a couple of Cokes.
Your past 3 years have been anything but sadness and despair. I saw your grades plummet, your temper flare, and your interest in girls, sports, and drawing die. You became a shadow of your former self, and no amount of cajoling, pleading, punishment, nor tough love would make you come back to us. When I became sick with cancer, I watched helplessly as you continued on a threatening trajectory: the car wreck, the arguments at home, and the disassociation with your friends and family. I never knew that you could bear such pain, and I was helpless to stop your downward spiral. I tried so hard to get you to see the path this series of choices led to, and I could not reach you.
I remember so much of you, Drew, and I cannot bear the thought that I will never see you again. You are everywhere I look, everything I see.
I can only hope that you are being sheltered by your mother, loved upon by Mom and Dad, and looked over by all who have preceded you. I know you are finally at peace, but I know it is us who are going to have to bear your loss. I love you, I miss you, and I will celebrate you always.