Don Neal Ridgway died on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, at Willow Tree Care Center in Delta, Colo. He was 89 years of age.
Dr. Don Ridgway was born in Akron, Ohio, on Jan. 11, 1929 to Cecil M. and Neva G. Ridgway. He enjoyed a rural upbringing in Northeast Ohio and graduated from Uniontown High School in 1946. He was an honor graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, in 1950 and for a brief time worked in the chemical research division of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He married Fern Antoinette Olds on Nov. 23, 1950, in Cortland, New York. They enjoyed nearly 58 years together before her death on Nov. 13, 2007, raising three children, Alan, Eric and Kathryn.
He received his medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1954 where he was both a Jessie Smith Noyes and John S. Knight scholar and received the Merck award for excellence in internal medicine. His post-graduate training began at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., but was interrupted when he was called to active duty with the U.S. Public Health Service where he served the Indian hospitals in Winslow, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M. He continued his training at St. Mary's Hospital in Saginaw, Mich., and while Chief Resident was awarded Mead Johnson grant for graduate education, one of only 10 in the United States. Wanting his children to know the advantages of growing up in a small town, he relinquished his plan to pursue a career in non-cosmetic plastic surgery. He joined the North Fork Medical Clinic in Paonia and Hotchkiss where he practiced general medicine, surgery and obstetrics until his retirement in 1998.
He was a benefactor life member of the National Rifle Association as well as numerous professional and wildlife conservation organizations. He staunchly defended the true interpretation of the Second Amendment knowing that without it the remainder of the Bill of Rights was worthless. Most every pro-gun rights organization in existence counted him as a member and supporter.
He enjoyed many outdoor activities such as hunting, skiing, river running, fishing and camping. He participated competitively in multiple shooting disciplines and earned his share of awards.
Over the years he attended six graduation exercises as a participating graduate and remembered little from each except long boring repetitions. To counteract this universal phenomenon he developed his own speech. Unfortunately he was never invited to give said speech until now: "Be good, do good, do it well."
He is survived by two sons: Alan (Cheryl) Ridgway of Paonia, Colo., Eric (Lori) Ridgway of Riverton, Wyo.; one daughter, Kathryn (Roger) Linnell of Paonia, Colo.; one brother, William (Jackie) Ridgway of Strasburg, Ohio; 10 grandchildren, Kristin Ridgway, Derek Ridgway, Briana Ridgway, Tanner Ridgway, Lindsey Ridgway, Logan Ridgway, Kiley Ridgway, Aaron Linnell, Kurt Linnell, Ben Linnell; and one great-granddaughter, Brenley Ridgway. Don was preceded in death by his parents and his spouse, Fern.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Paonia United Methodist Church with Reverend Russell Fletcher officiating.
In lieu of flowers or memorial contributions, honor his memory by reading a book, experiencing wilderness, loving your family, fearing your government, using common sense, eschewing lawyers and taking responsibility for yourself and your choices.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory.
View the internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at www.taylorfuneralservice.com.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.