Former School Board member dies

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A former School Board member died Monday, a little over four years after resigning from the board because of ill health.

John Riddick, 85, resigned in July 2008. He had represented the Nansemond borough on the board for 12 years, and previously was on the Nansemond County School Board and then the Suffolk School Board during the merger from 1972 to 1976, according to district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw.

John Riddick

He also was a longtime civil rights activist, alongside his brother Moses Riddick, who was on City Council.

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“He had the students at heart,” said School Board Chairman Michael Debranski. “He thought his decisions through, and he wanted what was best for all the students. I respected him for what he did for Suffolk City Schools and for the kids.”

“Mr. Riddick was a great man,” said Thelma Hinton, who lost the election to Riddick in 2004 and then won the seat in 2008 after Riddick’s resignation. “He had a great interest in the children’s education.”

Hinton said Riddick was concerned about children he saw around the neighborhood during the school day and collaborated with Hinton on ways to get them to go back to and stay in school.

“He had a compassion for the children, and he would talk to me concerning the children,” Hinton said. “He just was a mover and shaker for the city of Suffolk. He will be sadly missed.”

Another longtime School Board member, Enoch Copeland, said he was sad to hear of Riddick’s passing.

“John was a good School Board member, and our condolences go out to the family,” he said. “He was definitely a person who was committed to education as well as to the city. He gave of his time and effort to the very end, until he no longer could serve.”

Riddick retired from Newport News Shipbuilding in 1991 and also spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He graduated from Booker T. Washington School in Suffolk in 1946 and had higher education at Hampton Institute, now Hampton University.

He also was the first black uniformed sheriff’s deputy, a military veteran and a member of the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority board.