Jim-Ricketts-e1458854352454-150x150Jim Ricketts, director of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, has passed away following a brief illness. Ricketts had been director of the bureau since 1988 and was planning to retire April 1.

“For more than 40 years, Jim Ricketts was our leader when it came to tourism,” said Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms Jr., in a statement posted on Facebook. “He championed the right projects. He advocated for the right focus on our destination marketing efforts. And he defined the right level of quality we needed to bring to the beach to grow into a year-round resort. Jim’s passing leaves a hole in the fabric of this community.”

Prior to working at the bureau, Ricketts held various positions with the city of Virginia Beach starting in 1974. He also was a board member of the U.S. Travel Association. Ricketts served as assistant general manager of the Norfolk Port and Industrial Authority and also served as an officer in the United States Navy.

A service for Ricketts is being planned for March 26 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Virginia Beach Travel and Tourism Foundation, where a memorial scholarship has been established in his name. Donations can be mailed to the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Attn: Scholarship Fund, 2101 Parks Avenue Suite 500, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. Please make checks payable to the Virginia Beach Travel and Tourism Foundation.