Donald's Story

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Donald Eugene Ridgley, age 91, passed away quietly on December 30, 2016. Don was born on November 16, 1925, in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Margaret (Sparling) and Herbert Ridgley. The family, then including younger brother, Robert, moved to Marblehead in 1938, and Don graduated from Marblehead High School. He served briefly in the Army, then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with an electrical engineering degree in 1949. In 1965, he received his Masters in Engineering Management from Northeastern University. Don worked for General Electric as an engineering manager in instrument controls for 25 years, almost all at the West Lynn plant. He also worked for Bailey Controls in Ohio for 15 years.
While in college, he met his future wife, Frances Mahoney at a square dance. They married in 1950 and promptly proceeded to have five children. After living briefly in Erie, Pa., and Marblehead, they moved to Beverly, where they lived from 1952 to 1963. They built a house in Danvers and lived there from 1963 to 1974. When Don got a new job, they relocated to Mentor, Ohio, until retirement. They built a house in Merrimac and lived there until 2003, when they moved to their apartment at Brooksby Village in Peabody. After Fran died in 2014, Don continued to live at Brooksby Village until his death.
Don was both an intellectually and physically active man. He was a great dancer, starting with tap dance as a child, square dancing in college, ballroom dancing with Fran, folk dance with the children, and finally learning tango in his 80s. He also loved to sail, canoe, camp, hike and ski, and taught his family to do the same. He was active in Boy Scouts, both as a boy and as an adult. He joined the Unitarian Universalist Church as a young man, was a regular attendee throughout his life and served the church on numerous committees. He was a lifelong learner. He and Fran attended 50 Elderhostel sessions in the 25 years between 1983 to 2008, traveling widely around the U.S., and on outings to Spain, Malta, Italy and Greece, among other places. He stayed current with both the political events of the day and the latest exciting technology via the MIT alumni events and journals.
Don lived life and faced death under his own terms. He is survived by his son, Stephen (wife, Janis) of Amesbury; daughter, Carol (husband, Tom Campbell) of Danvers; daughter, Susan (husband, Jeff Jones) of Seattle, Wash.; daughter, Marcia of Yellow Springs, Ohio; and daughter, Sharon (husband, Scott Kendall) of Lexington; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and brother, Bob (wife, Marilyn) of Portland, Ore. He will be forever in our hearts.
Family and friends are warmly invited to a celebration of Don’s life, which will be held on February 18, 2017, at 11 a.m. at the Brooksby Village Chapel, 300 Brooksby Village Dr., Peabody, MA. In lieu of flowers, please consider the Boy Scouts or the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Published on  February 11, 2017
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