RIVER EDGE – Members of the community gathered on Saturday for the first Frank Riddle Memorial Fish Fry.
Riverside Baptist Church hosted parishioners, firefighters, police and community members to remember the former Riverside councilman and water utility manager. Riddle was a deacon and minister of music at the church and died nearly a year ago after a battle with cancer.
Riverside Councilor Sam Maddox, who replaced Riddle on the council and helped organize the event, hosted the event and made a special note of a pair of cowboy boots placed solemnly on a stool under a shadow box holding a formerly owned Gulf Oil shirt. by Riddle.
“Those are Frank Riddle’s boots,” he said, “and I looked in them and they’re size nine.”
The councilman then asked if any man in the room was wearing a size nine and only got one hand in response.
“Most of us, it’s a little bigger, isn’t it,” he said, “but I can promise you that if you’re wearing a size twelve, you still can’t fill those shoes with what Frank Riddle did in those boots.”
Maddox said Riddle’s passing has forced people to step up to fill all the roles he once held. The councilman said he replaced Riddle on the city council and others are tapping to replace him during the carol service at church or on the County Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team of St. Clair, but there are positions left open by Riddle that have yet to be filled. .
“I listed Frank as the Good Samaritan,” Maddox said. “Frank didn’t go out to find someone in a ditch, he would look for someone in a ditch.”
Many attendees had similar stories of Riddle’s life dedicated to service.
Cathy Pierce, a member of the Riverside Beautification Organization, said people know about Riddle in different ways, but he always makes time to help people.
Billy Bedford, who went to church with Riddle, remembers the man as an incredibly hard worker. He said he was likely to wear down anyone who worked with him because of the energy he brought to the job.
“He’s just the kind of person he was,” Bedford said. ‘He had a good heart though.
Ron Culberson of the Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team said Riddle had worked with the organization for more than a decade, first with a tree-cutting crew and then with the organization’s shower trailer team.
He said that through his work with the team, Riddle often travels to the site of natural disasters to help damaged communities get back on their feet. Any proceeds from the fish fry went to the Disaster Relief Team, due to the ministry’s importance to Riddle.
Riverside Baptist pastor Ken Maddox, who is also the councilman’s brother, said Riddle was always the first to offer to serve when the opportunity arose. He thought Riddle used to cook when the church had fellowship breakfasts.
“He would start cooking at 5 a.m.,” the pastor said. “I think that kind of stuff makes the character of who Frank was.”
Ken said one of the reasons Riddle always wanted to serve was to teach younger people how to serve. He said Riddle’s serving heritage is difficult to follow.
“It takes multiple people to step in and do what Frank did,” the pastor said. “You probably couldn’t find anyone in Riverside that he didn’t do anything for.”
Jennifer Riddle, the former councilman’s daughter, said she and her family appreciate that the church and the disaster relief team are taking the time to honor Riddle.
“We’re honored that they remember dad this way,” she said. “Riverside Baptist and the disaster relief program meant a lot to him.”
Jennifer said her father believed in living life based on Matthew 24:35-36.
“He lived to help people,” she said.
Jennifer said she has also worked to live up to her father’s legacy of service with her own work as a minister.
Riddle’s wife, Linda Riddle, also attended the event and thanked everyone for coming.
Taylor Mitchell is a Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.