Friday, November 02, 2007

Dr George Ritchie

One of the giants in the field of near-death studies just died. Dr. George Ritchie passed away on Monday, October 29th, in Irvington, Virginia. He reached the age of 84 before returning to the place he was most familiar with, that special place many of us visit during our near-death experiences.

George's near-death episode, that occurred when he became seriously ill while in the Army barracks where he was sent to be trained for duty during World War II, is still today one of the most striking ever recorded. Years later, when he was giving a talk about what happened to him then, Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D. was in the audience. This was the first such experience like this that Dr. Moody had ever heard. He was so taken by it, that he resolved to find others and investigate the phenomenon further. This one event led to a research project that became the book "Life After Life," and spawned the term "near-death experience." Following this, George authored his own book titled "Return from Tomorrow," a small but straight-forward telling of what he witnessed while dead, of his time with Jesus and what he was shown, and the difficulty he had locating his body in the morgue when he returned.

Even considering some of the amazing narratives given over the years since by experiencers, including the thousands who have personally touched my life and were a part of my research, I have yet to discover one that touched me as deeply as his did. There's something about his book, and the telling of his story, that stops you in your tracks and demands that you rethink, not death, but life itself.

As I sit at my computer writing this tribute, I need only turn around and there on my wall is a photo of George and I at a conference. I see it every day. There is so much joy in that photo. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of interacting with George numerous times, hearing him tell his story, visiting as friends do. Once I sponsored him to give the keynote address at a conference I held. While standing at a back wall overseeing the event, I accidentally leaned against the light switches and turned them off. My mistake was immediately corrected, but the embarrassment remained. George just laughed it off and kept talking as if nothing had happened.

I'll never forget that moment, nor the love beaming from his eyes, comforting me, and saying in essence, "All is well."

George, now it's my turn. As I gaze at your photo, love beaming from my eyes, I can say to you, truly, "All is well." PMH

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At 1:27 AM, Blogger Toward The Light said...

George is such a dear (yes, he still is, because he's still alive; only his body is gone ... as we well know!) and I had invited him on my radio show, but he said he was simply too weak to be on the show. I knew that he'd be transitioning soon... Still, it was such an honour to make contact with him and remembering his amazing NDE account. He died of pneumonia, (as I did as a child), and he had to look through the barracks to find his body. But the only way he could do so was to find the hand with the ring thereon, so he could recognise his body in a place where everyone looked completely the same!

When you come on my show on 16 December (in one month!), we can give a wee tribute to GR and what you personally shared together. That will be so lovely.

Blimey, he's probably trying to find another train, but will realise that he doesn't need to catch that train after all! :)

Even though I'm such a 'newbie' and have only been a member of IANDS for ten years, I'm very committed to helping the NDE community link hands, hearts and voices and getting the word out that life is, indeed, eternal and that death is only an illusion.

Thank you for all the wonderful work you're doing, PMH. I can see GR smiling at you as I write this. Ahh, what fun it is being a medium! ;)

Love & Light,

Rev. Juliet Nightingale

At 6:45 PM, Blogger bruspain said...

I am now rewriting.. what program on the 16th of Dec? George's last few months were an inspiration to me (but I have always looked up to my brother)but this time even more so as he showed his deep faith and strength in bringing some light to all of us. Bruce Ritchie Spain (sister)

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Toward The Light said...

My radio programme is Toward The Light that airs every Sunday evening at 5P ET (10P GMT) and is centred on NDEs and related topics. PMH is the special one who was my first guest when the show debued on 6 March 2006 and she'll be my special guest again on 16 December. You can listen to archived shows with PMH here. She's been on my show a half-dozen times already and has shared a wealth of information, which is what she's noted for!

We LOVE you, PMH!

In Gratitude,

JN :)

At 7:11 PM, Blogger PMH said...

Bruce, George was loved by many, including me. His wonderful books go on, as his memory will. To answer your question, I will be a guest on Rev. Juliet Nightingale’s radio show on December 16, 5 pm EST. The subject will be my latest, “The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences.” More detail about the show appears on my website in the radio interview listing. You can also scroll through Juliet’s website and find out more about her many shows and services. Blessings, PMH

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Ritchie influenced my life many years ago, when he invited me to visit him and his wife Marguerite at their home. We corresponded at Christmas, and I knew that something must have happened to him when my Christmas greeting was returned as "undeliverable" this year. He was a psychiatrist and I am a psychiatrist, a difficult position. Dr. Ritchie told me about the works of Starr Daily, because I treat violent forensic patients. I was reading one of Starr Daily's books today when I thought about Dr. Ritchie, and decided to see if I could find out what happened to him on the internet, since my Christmas greeting had just been returned to me. That's how I found this site. Thank you for letting me know about Dr. Ritchie's death--actually his second voyage into the realm he described so beautifully in his two books.

Nancy Barrow, M.D.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger PMH said...

I am glad to have been of service. Many physicians and psychiatrists are now active members of the International Association For Near-Death Studies (IANDS) – .  You might consider joining yourself. George was a member and spoke several times at their conferences. 

Many blessings, PMH

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Ritchie helped me at a time in my life that I needed not only someone to talk to but someone to help me find my way. One thing that he said to me that I will never forget was that he was placing an angel on my shoulder to remind me that I am a child of God and that I am was he.
He helped me find my inner source of strength and was quite an exceptional and caring man.

At 9:43 AM, Anonymous ellanois said...

I'm sorry to read of Dr. Ritchie's passing because I just started reading his book this morning. An interesting coincidence occured shortly after reading it: a rolled up photo of Camp Barkely TX in 1941 fell off my dresser.The fact that I even have such a photo...let alone that it fell at my feet shortly after reading Dr. Ritchie's account of his NDE at Camp an interesting coincidence...almost as if it something or someone is trying to get my attention. I wanted to send the photo to him so I came to this site hoping to find contact information. I'll hold onto it and continue reading.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger nelguild said...

I read return from tomorrow 3o years ago and it changed my life! and the following work with at-risk and problem youth changed many hundreds of lives! thank you george, say hi from me to HIM!

best regards
Nel Guild

At 12:10 PM, Blogger norbertg_99 said...

Dr. Ritchie's book, "Return from Tomorrow" has been an integral part of my Christian book library since it was first published in 1978. As a mental health therapist for many years, I am able to use his near-death experience to provide my clients with hope for their eternal future and to tell them that Jesus is the only way to everlasting life.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger PMH said...

This is wonderful. Thank you for continuing to see the worth in Dr. Ritchie’s story and in his life. Although he has passed, he is still an active force in this world. Blessings, PMH

At 8:33 AM, Blogger rita elaine said...

DR. George Ritchie's book, RETURN FROM TOMORROW has been a BIG influence in my life. I read it about 30 years ago and several times ever since. I like to go over it again every now and then, to help me focus on what is REALLY important NOW in THIS life. I have given several copies away in both English and Spanish (hard to find)and it has helped others I hope. I am reading it again these days, a chapter at a time to spread it out... and I got curious as to how he was and I found this web-space. I know he is HAPPY where he is now.. and I THANK him again.. nOW he can "hear" me for sharing his amazing/inspiring and life-giving story. BLESS YOU!

Rita Fishburn-Gibbs
Saltillo, Mexico

At 9:53 AM, Blogger PMH said...

George died several years ago. He lived a rich, full life and helped millions of people. We all loved him. Blessings, PMH

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I've read his book only this year 4-2009...I needed something to help me continue living...I can't seem to find any joy in life...have been this way for a loooooong time. Dr. Ritchie's book has helped me and I am greatful to a friend for recommending it. I've given it to several people. I still have a difficult time loving life...I too had an encounter with God: not seeing Him but feeling His divine presence and talking with Him...He wouldn't let me stay/come with Him...I had to remain here. I know of that JOY and PEACE only Christ can produce...when I read Dr. Ritchie's happenings, I knew it was true. Now to keep on living. Thanks for reading this. Marti K

At 11:21 AM, Blogger PMH said...

Keep going, Marti. We stay here, all of us who are like Ritchie, because we have a job to do and a good part of that job is to help make this world a better place. That job is worth doing, and life is worth its living. Thank you for staying and finding comfort in George’s book. I knew him well. He would take great joy in how his book helped you. Blessings, PMH

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Jonna said...

I just finished Ordered to Return. What a wonder-filled book. It has reinforced my commitment to follow the course that God has laid out for me and will help me find the path that leads to heaven on earth.

Jonna Turner Rathbun
March 2010

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the privilege of working with Dr. Ritchie many years ago. God used him to change my life as He did with everyone he encountered. I too sent a Christmas card a few years ago that was returned so I suspected he had died. I came to Alabama for a visit this Christmas & my mother asked about him.. we found this tribute. Dr. Ritchie was so so special! I loved him dearly & still feel his presence with me daily. Dr. Ritchie & my Grandmother were the two most Godly people in my life. I am blessed to have worked with him in Alabama.
Kim in Massachusetts

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

I started researching Near-death experiences only yesterday and from the numerous that I came across, Dr. Ritchie's account stood out! The trigger for my small research was the passing of my Dad only 9 days ago. He was a good Christian (as I hope I am), and my Mom described the peace, the immense peace that was clearly evident on his face as he passed on shortly after exclaiming my name. He had been severely ill for 2 weeks and was 71 years old. He lived almost all his life in Nigeria where I also live, but I happen to be on a business trip in the US presently. A fact that accounted for my absence from his bedside as he made the transition. It's sooooo nice to know that I'll see him again (hopefully not soon..........) if I keep my focus on following Jesus. Right away, I'm ordering his book so as to read the full details of his experience. I'll also order copies for my Mom and my siblings! May God bless the soul of Dr. Ritchie and the souls of the faithful departed, including my Dad in Jesus' name......Amen!

At 11:45 PM, Blogger PMH said...

Dear one, remember, Dr. Ritchie wrote two books. The second one corrects the record, in the sense of what some Christians claim about his experience. He corrects them by saying his was a spiritual experience of the One God, not a religious experience that supports the dogma of any church. Although his second book may not thrill you as much as his first, it will give you an opportunity to see how he really feels about what happened to him. Blessings, PMH

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Couldn't Stand the Heat said...

Hello PMH Atwater -

I want to thank you for your wonderful blog and for what it stands for. I've just found you but look forward to becoming a subscriber and regular reader. All of your followers seem so kind and there are so many personally meaningful things written in response to this post. This has touched me deeply!

Sincere regards,

John Coleman Ritchie (son)

At 7:22 PM, Blogger PMH said...

My goodness, George’s son. I am honored to have you around, to know that you’ve read some of what I’ve written, and that you approve. I knew your Dad, we talked many times.

As you will note from my website (, there are many parts to it: free monthly newsletter, special section call NDE Aftereffects, the Marketplace operated as a free service for NDErs and those like them to be able to market their products and services, YouTube playlist, books, NDE cases, and much more. My latest book just came out: A Manual for Developing Humans. Your dad would have love it. Maybe you will too.

Blessings always for your kindness and your good thoughts. PMH


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