Remembered by her family as a selfless, joyous Christian who enjoyed music and valued friendship, Alannah Rose Ritch left a lasting impact on those who knew her.
As a psychology senior and aspiring nurse, Alannah was a student worker who drove an Aggie Spirit bus at A&M and was involved on campus as an Impact counselor.
Alannah’s mother, Kathleen Ritch, said one of the biggest parts of Alannah’s life was music.
“She loved music. She played the French horn in band all through high school,” Kathleen said. “She also played guitar. She liked to get together with friends and play a bunch of songs. She didn’t think she had a good singing voice but everyone else thought so.”
As the middle child with an older sister and younger brother, Alannah loved her siblings and family very much.
“[Her brother] is in the Corps of Cadets and member of the Aggie Band,” Kathleen said. “She was really proud of him and so excited to have this one year to overlap with him, with him being a freshman and her being a senior. She also has an older sister who she loved very much. And not just her immediate family — her extended family too. She always wanted to visit everybody whenever she was home.”
Kathleen said Alannah was a faithful Christian who shared that faith with everyone.
“We knew that when she was still at home during high school and junior high she would invite people to come to our church,” Kathleen said. “We found out that she was doing that a lot in college. After her death a lot of people came to us and told us that she had brought them to Christ. We were proud to hear that. She was more of a disciple than me and my husband believe we are.”
One of Kathleen’s favorite memories of her daughter was during a recent family trip to the beach.
“She, my son and another good friend went to the beach this summer and we didn’t do anything real spectacular we just had fun together,” Kathleen said. “She loved the beach. That’s one of her favorite places and she loved sunsets. We got to see some really pretty sunsets on that trip. She loved palm trees and on that trip she started hugging palm trees. She was really silly.”
Carrie Walpole, a friend of Alannah, said while she has too many fond memories of Alannah to count, she will never forget the day they became best friends.
“I met [Alannah] at the church that we went to in San Marcos,” Walpole said. “When we became best friends I was new to the church and she told me, ‘You’re going to sit next to me and we’re going to be best friends,’ so that was probably my favorite memory.”
With unmatched positivity, joy and kindness Alannah displayed a love toward others few people possess, Kathleen said.
“She was really easy to be around because she was always ready to have fun and ready for an adventure,” Kathleen said. “I saw that by the way she was with her friends. She and I did fun things together, but when I saw her with her friends it just brought joy to me because she was always up for anything.” Walpole, who was friends with Alannah for nine years, attested to Alannah’s attitude toward her friendships.
“[Alannah] loved everyone to the core,” Walpole said. “Whether she only hung out with you one time or she hung out with you 50 times, she cared about every single person that she came into contact with. It was her mission to make that person’s day or life better.”
Michelle Guinn, a child professional services junior at A&M, was Alannah’s roommate and close friend. Guinn said one of Alannah’s best traits was the way she served and loved those around her.
“She loved people very well,” Michelle said. “She loved authentically and loved people for who they were no matter who they were. She found a way of making you feel valued and known and did things specifically to show you that she knew and cared for you.”
A week after Alannah’s death, friends and family held Chalk the Block — an event in which Alannah’s loved ones wrote Bible scriptures and kind notes on the street corner where Alan- nah died and in her hometown of San Marcos — to honor her life. Through this event the hashtag “#LiveLikeAlannah” was created and has become a reminder to Kathleen to live selflessly.
“What I took away [from Alannah’s life] is that I want to live more like Alannah,” Kathleen said. “That’s what our family keeps saying to each other, that we want to live more like Alannah and be more joyous and selfless and be kinder to other people.”
While Alannah’s family misses her dearly, they find peace in their Christian faith.
“She was a beautiful, beautiful human being,” Kathleen said. “She has left a really big hole in our family and a big hole in this world. I know she’s resting in heaven and that’s the only thing that gives me peace right now.”