Can you imagine why a 3 times Grammy award winner would travel hundreds of miles to perform for a Celebration of Life for someone he didn’t really know? Perhaps because he, Bill Miller, like the person we were remembering was also abused, he as a child and she as a wife by her first husband. A wife who left the abusive marriage and then made her life’s work helping other abused women.
The person whose life we were celebrating was Linda Riddle, born in ’53, raised on an Iowa farm and moved to southern Minnesota in the 80’s where her strong work ethic would provide the tenaciousness needed to help 1000’s of women during some 20 plus years. Starting in Houston County Women’s Resource Center where she was executive director followed by having the same role in the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP) in Duluth. Natureman met Linda in the 80’s when he was working on the Duluth Project’s curriculum addressing male violence.
Over the years Linda took abused women into her home/ found them safe shelter/ provided friendship/ counsel /sought funds to help these women. Linda also travelled abroad as an advocate for “women’s health, safety, and well-being” even aiding in the fight against human trafficking.
Linda’s afternoon Celebration of Life took place at the Pump House from 2-5pm starting with a welcome by Linda’s beautiful daughter Celeste on the back patio. Celeste reminds me so much of her mother…
Bill Miller used his flute and melodious and heartfelt vocal indigenous music with beautiful renditions of Amazing Grace and Halleluyah accompanied with stories including the abuse by his father to him and his mother. Tears fell as he shared and added the message of male tears being shed as okay. He had lost both his own mother and son within a year of each other…
With a special fan of eagle feathers he blessed Celeste giving her 2 feathers from his own collection.
Touching to say the least.
Inside the Pump House was a lovely buffet a la Co-op, photo boards and a power point in addition to Linda’s art work in leather, painting and jewelry. It was the latter how Natureman first introduced us as Linda was on the UW-L campus with a booth for her jewelry many moons ago…
Remembrances followed the music inside the Pump House Theater with 8 family members/ friends. Those speaking included Linda’s : husband Dick (Richard)of 18 years, close friend Mary Ann, brother Jim, Rosemary, Houston County Domestic Center friend, Lizzy (Co-op), son Abram, local activist June Kjome and daughter Celeste.
Amidst their great stories descriptors and nouns included : advocate, beautiful heart, artistic, creative, innovative, fashionista, full of life, fidgeting, conversationalist, gardener, talented, cook, political activist and candidate, generous, fearless, calm, tranquil, positive and creator of good memories. I’m sure I forgot many others… but you get the picture, right?
Our paths crossed over the years at political gatherings re: social justice and environmental issues, etc… In her job at the People’s Food Co-Op I experienced cooking classes she organized. She’d both work and be attentive at all the different events.
Linda even Jazzercised with me while dancing to her own drummer with all her heart and energy. To continue to fit Jazzercise in her day, she started attending the 6:30 am class.
Who knew an aneurism the size of a golf ball was behind her eye? It was a shock to all of us for her to be taken from our world so soon… She lived such a full life and touched so many lives from so many diverse sectors in different communities. I bet some 200 folks were able to be at her Celebration of Life with many more wishing they could be present…
The one descriptor I personally would like to add was ‘righteous’. Linda Riddle was a righteous woman. Our world is all the better for having had her in it.
To those that knew her, may her memory always be a blessing…
If you would like to make a donation in remembrance of Linda:
Non profit :
Bluff Country Family Resources, Inc. 114 Main St, Hokah , MN 55941 or
Life House, 102 1st Street, Duluth, MN 55941