by David Shannon
Jean Ridings was born in Bakersville, in Humphries County. Her family farmed the fertile soil on the Cherry Bottom of the Buffalo River. It was in this river she was baptized into her Lord at the age of 12 by Ed Craddock, the late husband of our Ann Craddock. Jean’s family moved to Waverly in 1942. She attended Waverly Central High playing the guard position on the woman’s basketball team. In the forties, women’s teams were three on three. Her team advanced in tournament play to win the highest level at that time. After graduation and Doug’s return from his duty in the military a mutual friend introduced them. They fell in love, married, and recently celebrated their sixty-first anniversary. Shortly after their wedding Doug took a job with DuPont, moving the family first to Madison, then later to Old Hickory, and eventually in 1960 settling in Hermitage. In the early years of their marriage Jean worked for the State of Tennessee, but after the birth of her children, Becky (Pendygraft), Brenda (Wilkerson), and Bill, she worked full-time raising her family. Jean loved her family. She had a way of connecting with each child. Even to the end she shared a love of books with Becky, yard selling with Brenda, and sports with Bill. She was able to do this with each grandchild and great-grandchild. She served her family by keeping grandchildren and was even in the last few months keeping a great-grandchild. Her love for children was reflected in the fact that her house seemed to always have children in it and to this day many children and adults who are not even related call them “Momma Jean” and “Daddy Doug.” Jean loved the Lord. She remembered her Creator in the days of her youth and in maturity. About eight years ago Becky asked Jean to complete a book that was designed for a mother to give her children revealing her thoughts and memories. In a section about spiritual life it asked what legacy the mother wishes to leave to her family and Jean stated, “Read the Bible through as often as you can, as many times as you can, as young as you can.” Jean loved the fact that we as a church family are reading the Bible this year. She was up-to-date with her reading when she became so sick at the end of May. Jean lived the instructions from God that she read. One of her children said, “She knew what was right and did it, and taught it to us.” In this book she also listed her favorite verses in the Bible as John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Under this she wrote, “This sounds so wonderful and peaceful to me.”
Jean Ridings was a blessing to many. Her sickness was sudden and the steadfast care and compassion by her family during her weeks in ICU demonstrated their great love for her. Let’s pray for Doug, her family, and the many close friends. Another soldier marches home.