Don Riddle, 62, founder of Davidsonville's Homestead Gardens, died overnight. Homestead Gardens spokesman Tim Hamilton confirmed that Riddle was found on his boat on Thursday.
Anne Arundel County Police spokesman Justin Mulcahy confirmed on Friday that police and fire were called to a report of a suicide in the 1200 block of Eden Lane in Annapolis at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday. When they arrived, they found that Riddle had already died, and was located inside the boat.
"Preliminarily, there is nothing suspicious in nature. The final cause and manner of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner," Mulcahy said in an email to Patch.
Homestead Gardens released a statement on Friday, "It is with profound sadness that the Homestead Gardens family marks the passing of Don Riddle, Jr. Mere words cannot begin to express the sense of loss felt by those who have considered Don a friend, mentor, co-worker, and community leader. Don was many things to many people and irreplaceable on every level. His passion and commitment to family, the gardening industry, and the community was strikingly evident on a daily basis. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community he so dearly loved, and ask that you keep his family in your prayers."
Riddle founded Homestead Gardens at its location at the crossroads in the small country town of Davidsonville in 1973. There wasn't a lot of traffic back then, so Riddle set out to make the nursery a destination store. In a tradition that lasts to this day, Riddle offered visitors festivals and educational events that proved a draw.
Homestead Gardens is not only the largest employer in Davidsonville, but it is one of the largest home garden centers in the country.
The growing division, Homestead Growers, incorporates two farms totaling more than 250 acres, and includes a state-of-the-art five-acre greenhouse, also located in Davidsonville.
Riddle was involved hands-on in the day-to-day operations of the business, and was very involved in the community, regularly offering the beautiful surroundings of Homestead Gardens to local charities for fundraising events.
Homestead Gardens was named Garden Center of the Year by the Garden Centers of America (GCA) in 2004, and Nursery Retailer of the Year in 2008 by Nursery Retailer Magazine.
Riddle also was awarded the prestigious Jack Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. This award, selected by the Garden Center of America’s board of directors, is the organization’s top honor. It is based on the nominee’s lifetime career contribution to the garden industry and support for GCA.
Riddle served on the Commerce First Bank Board, as vice-chair of the American Horticultural Society, past president of GCA and past president of the Board of Managers of the Excellence in Creative Gardening Concepts Group (ECGC).
Riddle served locally on the board of directors for the South River Federation in Edgewater. Erik Michelsen, president of SRF said, “Don’s commitment to the community and to protecting the health of local rivers was tremendous. As a pillar of the local business community, he was proud to give back and to make Homestead Gardens a model for beautifying the landscape while at the same time working to improve water quality. He was always excited to host Federation events at his wonderful facilities and we felt lucky to have him serving on our board. He will be missed.”
Riddle's father, Don Riddle Sr., passed away in January.
Riddle is survived by his wife Laura, two children, Brian and Quinn, one grandchild, mother Evelyn (of Annapolis) and his brother Gerald Riddle of White Post, VA.
Editors Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Homestead Gardens (10:50 a.m. July 1).