Meet Jim Ritzert,

Jim Ritzert; photo © 2008 by Jim Ritzert; used with permissionHow did you get started as the Crowley Clan webmaster?
In 2001, Taoiseach Tom Crowley registered the domain name, and arranged with Fiona Crowley and Mary Hanlee to create it. They created the “splash” page and designed the main page, but demands on their time prevented them from carrying the effort further. Tom asked if I would put some content behind the framework, and I agreed as my contribution to the Crowley Clan. The site now comprises about 160 pages.

What has been the most interesting part of the job?
I've increased my appreciation for the Crowley background and history, our heritage, and I've enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with evolving standards of web page construction. That's my technical bent showing through.

What is your background in Information Technology?
Oh, my! I wrote my first program in Fortran (a scientific language) in 1964 or 1965 to run on an IBM 1620 computer housed at Kent State University. I got my first paying job in IT in 1974, on an IBM 360 mainframe computer at a local bank. I spent the rest of my career, retiring in 2006, doing both application and system programming, mostly for financial institutions. I designed programs and application systems, as well as utility tools, and wrote in assembly language, COBOL and REXX. I found that I had a talent for debugging, and spent about 10 years of my career identifying and correcting program errors.

What are your hobbies?
I sing, as you know; I read voraciously, bake pie, do a little woodworking, and cross-stitch Christmas stockings. I volunteer at the USO care package facility locally. I bowl, ride short-line railroads, and can do a little impromptu bartending. I take photographs. I do Sudoku, and am learning Microsoft's Access database package.

Tell us about your family?
Tom Crowley is my second cousin; we share common ancestors in Denis and Ellen Hannon Crowley, who had about a dozen kids, so I've lots of Crowley cousins. I am the oldest of four, two brothers and one sister. My bride Marty and I have no children, nor do either of my brothers, but my sister has one of each.

Those of us who’ve met you at Crowley Gatherings know you have a fine singing voice. Where did that interest come from?
I’ve sung for as long as I can remember. My dad and I used to sing songs in harmony while we were doing the dishes. As a youth I enjoyed country music; country then gave way to folk music. I think ballads and “story” songs appealed to me more than “somebody done somebody wrong” songs, and, of course, there's nothing like a good, rousing drinking song. I've often said that I'll only sing if I've got enough whiskey in me, but the truth is that I'll work the pipes at the drop of a hat.

What is your goal for the Crowley Clan Website?
The site should say, “We are the Clan Crowley. This is where we came from; this is what we do; this is where we are going.” We gather every three years to celebrate these things, and the site actively promotes the gatherings and fosters a sense of community in the Clan. I've put notices on the site of local family reunions; I'd like to see more of these. I'd like to get back to visitors being able to post to a guest book, but haven't yet found a way to eliminate the spam postings. “Blogs” or bulletin boards are a possibility, but would require user ID's, passwords, and the associated tracking and privacy overhead, to say nothing of the increased support requirements.

You have renovated the Crowley Clan Website. What are your hopes for the new site?
I had a couple of reasons for re-designing the site. After seven years, it was beginning to have a “worn” look, and I felt it needed to be freshened up. Still, there were characteristics of its original design that were unique. They set it apart from other web sites, and I wanted to keep them. Web page standards and browser design had both improved since the site originally went online, as had my experience with HTML, and I felt that it was time to get the site up to current standards. Finally, I wanted to make the site more accessible to people by making it more compatible with current browsers, including aural browsers (for people who are visually impaired). I wanted any visitor to be able to print the content of any page without burning through their color ink supply on decorative graphics and extraneous items like site menus.

You have said the Crowley Clan web site is the WORLD'S first impression of the clan. Tell us more.
They don't call it the World Wide Web for nothin'. While many of us have the site in our “Favorites”, anyone else in the world who is looking for information on the clan or the name uses a search engine to find us. The site is an introduction to who we are, our values, our heritage, and like any introduction, produces a lasting first impression. I want that introduction and first impression to be a good one.

The Crowley Clan Newsletter is
compiled by Marian Crowley Chamberlain