James Oscar Ritchey was the son and grandson of Indiana farmers. Though he dearly loved the rural countryside, Dr. Ritchey decided to break with family tradition to become a physician. In 1913, Dr. Ritchey left his Carroll County home for medical school. The Indiana University School of Medicine was his home for the next 68 years.
Dr. Ritchey graduated in 1918 at the top of his class and was the first recipient of the Marcus Ravdin Medal, the medical school's highest award for scholarship. One year later, he became an instructor in the Department of Medicine at Indiana University. In the years that followed, he served as chairman of the Department of Medicine, was named a distinguished professor and became the first Indiana physician to be elected a Master of the American College of Physicians.
Even after his death at the age of 90, Dr. Ritchey continued to support the School of Medicine. In 1994, after the death of his wife, Lydia, a trust he created supported the Dr. J.O. Ritchey Medical Library/Medical Research Fund.