Photo of John RittelmeyerWe are saddened to share that Disability Rights North Carolina Director of Litigation John Richard Rittelmeyer died October 28, 2019 at Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh, NC. Before joining DRNC, John was in private practice with Hartzell and Whiteman, where he notably and successfully argued an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, saving his client from the death penalty. 

The parent of a child with severe developmental disabilities, John found himself drawn to disability issues and served on the board of directors for Carolina Legal Assistance for more than ten years. He was instrumental in transitioning North Carolina’s federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy system (P&A) for people with disabilities out of state government and into Carolina Legal Assistance. John served as Director of Litigation of the new P&A, which was later renamed Disability Rights North Carolina, until his death. John was particularly proud of the class-action lawsuit that delayed the move of patients from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh to Central Regional Hospital in Butner, NC, until all remaining safety issues at the new hospital were resolved.

John was a pillar of our organization and will be sorely missed for all time. He was taken from us too soon and we have been elevated tremendously by his countless contributions to our cause and by having known him. 

John loved birdwatching, tomato gardening, camping, and the Durham Bulls. He faced life and death with grace and humor, surrounded by those who loved him. He was devoted to his wife, Jennifer, and their daughters: writer Helen Andrews, of whom he was endlessly proud, and Martha, whose memory he cherished.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for November 9 at 1 p.m. at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Cary. Please visit for additional details.

To make an online donation to DRNC in John’s memory or for more information, please visit

John and friends with Woolioe Bull at DRNC
October 7 celebration of John’s career at DRNC with special appearance by Wool E. Bull