Old Mane

Video posted April 28, 2015 in News by Lauren Lewis


This July, Robert Ritzmann will turn 91 years old, making him the oldest living former Nittany Lion mascot. He is also the longest serving mascot, with three years under his belt during the years after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He served from 1942 to 1945.

Ritzmann lives in a small apartment at Foxdale Village, now alone after the death of his wife in 2014. Pictures and memorabilia from Penn State hang on his walls. His bookshelf holds one of his most prized possessions: his book about the history of the Nittany Lion.

Ritzmann was the first lion to serve after the dedication of the lion shrine, which he remembers starting out as a block of limestone. He recalls watching the carving day after day—and he has a miniature lion outside his home to remind him of the finished product.

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nittany lion , psu

About the Contributors

Lauren Lewis's photo

Lauren Lewis

Senior / Journalism

I first knew that I wanted to pursue a journalism degree after reading “Half the Sky,” a book by NY Times reporters Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. At the time, I was enrolled in a private, all-girls boarding school. The curriculum and environment were women-centered: for the first time in my life, I had instructors who kept their maiden names, studied in and encouraged STEM fields, and had an acute awareness of women’s conditions all over the world. It was progressive escape in the middle of small-town, rural living.
My three-year college plan at the Pennsylvania State University included a major in print journalism and a minor in Communication Arts & Sciences. It wasn’t long before I completed many of the requirements for photojournalism, added second and third minors in the French language study and International Studies, and accepted opportunities including being news intern at my local paper, the student seat on The Collegian Board of Directors, and the interning editor for a national peer tutoring publication, The Dangling Modifier. I also became a peer tutor in the PSU Learning Center. In the midst of it all, I never forgot my dream of continuing the project that Kristof and WuDunn began for women. I volunteered over 80 hours of my time to become a trained advocate at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, and I continue to volunteer and work with the center on a regular basis (approx. 100 hours to date). I also joined a peer education club that aims to promote gender equality on campus. I continued my studies in French and was accepted to study abroad in Besançon, France for two months over the 2014 summer semester. Shorty after putting a deposit down on the France trip, I added a two-week international/intercultural communications opportunity in Vienna, Austria.