This past Thursday, Don Riddle, founder of Homestead Gardens, . As a leader in the business community, Riddle was responsible for creating one of the largest home garden centers in the country.
As news of Riddle’s death travels throughout Davidsonville and beyond, friends and colleagues are shocked and dismayed. Those who knew Riddle remember him as a pillar of the local business community, a caring citizen who helped keep Davidsonville rural, a leader in the gardening industry and a philanthropist who opened his door to many local charities.
Following are a few of the many reflections being shared by associates and friends. Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch.com invites readers to add their thoughts on Don Riddle and his outstanding contributions to the community.
- Erik Michelsen, president of South River Federation: “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.”
- Gail Enright, Davidsonville Area Civic Association: “Not only as the president of Homestead Gardens, but also on a personal level, Don was a caring good citizen of the community. When he and Steve first arrived in Davidsonville they became active members of the Davidsonville Area Civic Association, which at that time was in the throes of a zoning issue, seeking to keep Davidsonville rural, with protected open space. He listened to his neighbors and heeded their concerns about projects that might cause them concern for the quality of life in this semi-rural area. Don will be sadly missed by more people than we know.”
- Lisa Barge , Anne Arundel Economic Development Organization: “Don was an incredible man, an extraordinary business man who truly loved life. He was passionate about his work, he treated everyone like they were special. It always amazed me to do a tour of Homestead, he knew everything about every plant, he knew every employee by name, and you could tell he enjoyed what he did. He was a tremendous asset and supporter for the agriculture in our county. He always gave 100 percent in everything he did. He will be missed by many.”
- Sandy Lofgren-Sargeant, Sandra Lofgren Sargeant & Associates and Wharfside Restaurant: “Whenever I want to take a mental break, I go to Homestead Gardens. It is a truly amazing place and is my sanctuary. Don Riddle was an incredible businessman who was well respected in the community and will be greatly missed.”
- Val Hymes, writer and radio host: "Don and I remember him at his produce stand in the early 70s as we commuted to Washington. We always had to stop and talk with Don and his then partner, Steve Flury, another tragic loss to the community last year. He always remembered us, and everyone else he met. We watched and cheered as he built and expanded Homestead Gardens. One of his most proud moments came when he was host to the national gathering of the Garden Centers of America in recent years. During Christmas seasons, he brought out the model trains and Santa and invited local musicians including the Singers Madrigale and the Annapolis Chorale to sing for the customers. He treated us—and his customers—like family."
- Michael Galway, owner of Killarney House restaurant: I remember the first time I met Don Riddle in Killarney House. It was our first week open in the new restaurant and Don came in to welcome us to the community and wish us the best of luck That was the beginning of a marvelous relationship for us, both in business and within the community. Don was a great champion for local charity’s and he would invite us to help with whatever charitable cause he was supporting at the time. He was also a determined dealmaker and had some wonderful contacts he had built upon over his years in business in south county and he was happy to share with the newcomers in the neighborhood. The atmosphere he created at Homestead and in Davidsonville with the many festivals and carnival type events was amazing and none better than at Christmas-time with the festive decorations and lights up and down Central Ave. When someone asked us where Killarney House was located we answered proudly, just down the street from Homestead Gardens, and because most people already knew where Homestead was, it made it a lot easier for us. We will miss that energetic charismatic personality that was Don Riddle in our community and we will try to continue his good work as best we can.
The family of owners and staff of Killarney House and the Irish Restaurant Company wish to send our condolences to the family of owners and staff of Homestead Gardens and let you know you are in our thoughts and prayers.