Former Smyrna mayor Knox Ridley dies

The Murfreesboro Post, August 7, 2010

Knox Ridley on the left, Sam Ridley on the right.

A service celebrating the life of Knox Ridley will be held Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 10:00AM at Woodfin Funeral Home in Smyrna.

Officiating will be Father Joseph P. Breen.  A visitation for family and friends will be held Monday, August 9th from 5:00PM – 7:00PM at Woodfin Funeral Home in Smyrna.

Knox Ridley, a much loved and respected husband, son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle and friend, passed away August 6, 2010 after a long and fulfilling life.

Knox was born in Smyrna, June 23, 1919.  He graduated from Smyrna High School and attended Cumberland University.  He was drafted into the military service in 1941 as a private in the U.S. Air Force Signal Company.  He was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant.  He served over three years in Europe and North Africa, and was given a Field Commission by General Carl Spaatz, Chief Air Force Commander.  He attended Code and Decipher School at Oxford University and served as Communication Officer to General Spaatz.  He concluded his war service receiving the Bronze Star and Seven Combat Stars.

A true entrepreneur, he returned to Smyrna, partnering with his twin brother John Sam Ridley and childhood friend, Earl Coleman.  They founded Klassic Kleaners, Ridley Chevrolet, Smyrna Insurance Agency and Sam Davis Development Corporation.  They developed the first residential subdivision in Smyrna, Meadowbrook.  They went on to develop additional residential subdivisions in Smyrna, Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

In addition to his active business life, Knox contributed generously to the civic and religious life of Smyrna and Rutherford County.  He served as County Judge, Mayor of Smyrna, Smyrna City Judge and Representative of the Rutherford County Court.  He received the Rutherford Courier Distinguished Citizenship Award in 1973, The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Business Legend Award in 1993 and received the Phoenix Degree from Cumberland University.

Ridley was a charter member of the Smyrna Rotary Club.  He was very proud of the fact that he was the oldest living member of the First Baptist Church of Smyrna, where his mother and father were founding members.

Knox Ridley was one of those men who was put on earth to create things.  He and his twin brother, Sam, started with nothing and just kept creating until they had helped to transform the heart of Middle Tennessee from a sleepy little whistle stop to the dynamic, prosperous region it has become.  The best part is they had such fun along the way.  Knox’s positive outlook on life, his larger than life personality, his generosity and kindness to others and the fact that he never met a stranger, will keep his memory alive in the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to have known him!

Knox was preceded in death by his wife and best friend of 57 years, Marie Miller Ridley; his parents, Will Crawford Ridley and Mary Emma Ridley; his twin brother, John Sam Ridley and older brother Will Gibson Ridley.  He is survived by his sons Knox Ridley, Jr. and his wife Anne, Thomas Joseph Ridley and partner Gerald S. Davis and William Crawford Ridley; his grandchildren, Alison Ridley Marlar and her husband Matthew A. Marlar and Knox Ridley, III; his sisters, Leta Jane Kellam and Evalie Breeding and her husband Bob .  Knox is also survived and adored by his nieces and nephews, their spouses and children, his dear friend Catherine A. Lyall and his loyal dog Teka.

The family would like to express their gratitude to Winnifred (Grace) Heholt, Knox’s loving and supportive caregiver.  The family would also like to thank Dr. Richard Raborn and Dr. Robert Gold for their compassionate care.

The following men honor Mr. Ridley by serving as pallbearers: John A. Lee, Jr., W. Kent Coleman, Sam B. Coleman Jr., William F. Coleman, Stephen W. Lee, William R. Culbertson, Rusty Griffin, J. Michael Woods, Dan Whittle, Richard F. LaRoche, Jr. and Jerry Benefield.  Serving as honorary pallbearers: Bobby G. Spivey, Nora Mae Peebles, Racquel Peebles, Jeanne Nolan, Robert W. Gwynne, Charles Vance, Ben Johns, Betty Jane Huggins, Ralph Turley, Tom Otto and members of the Smyrna Rotary Club.

The family suggests in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Edward’s Catholic School, 188 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN 37211. Woodfin Chapel, Smyrna 459-3254 

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