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Obituary for William Donald Ridley Sr
William Donald Ridley, aged 83, passed away at his home on May 18 following a lengthy illness. He was born on November 23, 1935 to the late Bruce Donald Ridley and late Garnelle Carter Ridley. He was preceded in death by his son, William Donald (Dee) Ridley, Jr., and his brothers Gerald Ridley and Arthur Ridley. A graduate of Putnam County High School, he attended Georgia State University in Business Management. He served in the United States Army and the Georgia National Guard. Following return from service time in the Army, he went to work for Yazoo Manufacturing, Co. selling lawn mowers and racing go-carts. He established Ridley Equipment Company, selling and repairing lawn mowers and chain-saws and opened Ridley’s Sporting Goods. Later he went to work as Director of Trucking for Horton Homes, retiring from there in 2004. In 1972, Mr. Ridley was elected to the Putnam County Board of Commissioners serving 24 years as a commissioner with the last 4 as Chairman and as vice-chairperson and 16 years as vice-chairperson. During this time, he is credited with helping to start the first county-owned ambulance service and the first county volunteer fire departments. He worked with his brother Gerald Ridley and other members of the Forestry Service to bring the first “fire knocker” to the county. In the 1970’s, then Commission Chairman, Roy Vining, placed him in charge of roads and bridges, and credited him with helping to get many dirt roads paved and county bridges built. He also served on the Putnam County Board of Health and Putnam General Hospital Authority and retired from politics in 1996. In June of 1998, a dedication service was held to designate the bridge over Beaver Dam Creek as the Donald Ridley Bridge to honor a man referred to as a shrewd leader ,a teacher, a brick wall, a driving force for change for more than two decades, a friend and a man who loves Putnam County. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Eatonton serving as a deacon and on several committees. He was a member of the Eatonton Elks Lodge, Rising Star Blue Lodge #4, Al Sihah Shrine Temple and Scottish Rite of Middle Georgia and past member of the former Eatonton Exchange Club, VFW Post 6686 and the Tri-County Shrine Club, Mr. Ridley is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Glenda Griffin Ridley; daughter Donna Kauffman (Ron) of Eatonton; daughter-in-law, Toni Ridley of Eatonton; grandchildren Christopher Kauffman, Cody Kauffman, Sarah Pickett, and Amanda Ridley all of Eatonton and Carissa Mason (Brett) of Gray; great-grandchildren Levi Pickett of Eatonton and Madilynn Mason of Gray; sister-in-law Jackie Madonna of Flovilla, GA; nieces Medina Crowe (Frank) of Eatonton and Tina Ridley (Bill ) of Darien, GA; nephews Jay Ridley (Christine) of Eatonton, Jim Ridley of Athens, GA, A.J. Madonna, and Kevin Madonna of Flovilla, GA; and several grandnieces and grandnephews. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to First Baptist Church Eatonton or to Crossroads Baptist Church Eatonton. Vining Ivy Chapel is in charge of arrangements.