Obituary: Gordon Ray (Jake) Ridgeway

Jan. 7, 1947 ~ July 29, 2021

Gordon “Jake” Ridgeway passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Snohomish, Washington. He was 74 years old.  A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Meeker Highland Cemetery.  

He was born in Meeker, Colorado, to William Oscar and Eva Irene (Kendall) Ridgeway on Jan. 7, 1947. After graduating from Meeker High School, he had two children, Larry and Michele, with his then wife Joyce. Later, he married Juanita Ridgeway, and became a role model to  step-children Heather Anderson and Brian Hopson.

He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and a good friend to so many.  Even though he grew up in the small town of Meeker, he turned out to be quite the adventurer. There were very few things he wouldn’t do to help make ends meet. He worked in a coal mine, made deliveries for Harp Transportation, worked on an oil rig, cut timber, and was the owner of Jake’s Roustabout Service. He was also a trapper and hunter and truly enjoyed the outdoors. He enjoyed taking his houseboat out on Lake Powell, camping with family, and traveling in the fifth wheeler with Nita after retirement. He hosted many a poker party and played golf, hitting a hole in one at the Meeker Golf Course. Jake remodeled his own home in Meeker, and later built two homes in Delta, Colorado. He remodeled many more homes in Delta and Springerville, Arizona. He also enjoyed scuba diving, bugling elk, getting his pilot’s license and even tried sky diving. Jake was also a world class prankster and story teller with a distinctive voice who could make anyone believe just about anything.  He was the only person in Meeker history to build a houseboat in their back yard. Many thought he might have been tipped off about the next great flood. Others thought he was just plain crazy. 

Jake’s tastes were very sophisticated, from his fashion sense to his palate.  In his younger years, he was often seen wearing knee high socks, golf shorts, a short sleeve button down shirt, and an elkhorn necklace.  He enjoyed bologna sandwiches with sandwich spread, Western salad dressing, and at times, pizza with strawberry jelly. Thankfully, over the 29 years of marriage to his beloved Nita, his tastes were gently but forcefully refined. 

Of all the things he did in his life, Jake was most proud of being a grandpa and being able to teach his children and step-children everything he could.  He taught all of them numerous skills and, even when he was ill, flew to Texas to teach his oldest daughter and son-in-law how to lay tile.  All of his children and their spouses would call him to ask how to do things, especially if it involved carpentry or plumbing.  

Jake is survived by his wife Nita Ridgeway of Snohomish, Washington; son Larry (Andrea) Ridgeway of Snohomish, WA; daughter Michele (Ray) Mazzola of Texas; stepdaughter Heather Hopson Anderson of Everett, Washington; stepson Brian (Rachel) Hopson of Denver, Colorado; two sisters, Roberta Jean Cook of Meeker, Colorado, and Sherry Lynn Howell of Socorro, New Mexico; five grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Jake was preceded in death by his parents Oscar and Eva Ridgeway; seven brothers, Harold Wesley Ridgeway, James Duane Ridgeway, Fenton Leroy Ridgeway, William Oscar Ridgeway, Robert Eugene Ridgeway, Donald Wayne Ridgeway, and Oscar Kenneth Ridgeway; and three sisters, Virginia Lee Bolles, Betty Marie Campbell and Laura Sue Monteque.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Jake’s favorite charity, St. Jude’s Hospital.

Special to the Herald Times