Don Riddle Jr., one of the biggest names in the independent garden center industry, has died. He was 63.
Riddle was the founder and owner of Homestead Gardens, a large retail garden center business with locations in Davidsonville and Severna Park, Md. He began Homestead Gardens in the early 1970s in his backyard and built it to the industry showcase it is today.
“It is with profound sadness that the Homestead Gardens family marks the passing of Don Riddle Jr,” says Tim Hamilton, marketing director for Homestead Gardens. “Mere words cannot begin to express the sense of loss felt by those who have considered Don a friend, mentor, co-worker and community leader. Don was many things to many people and irreplaceable on every level. His passion and commitment to family, the gardening industry and the community was strikingly evident on a daily basis. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community he so dearly loved, and ask that you keep his family in your prayers.”
Riddle was instrumental in forming the modern version of Garden Centers of America, guiding the organization through its transition to full independence when it detatched from American Nursery & Landscape Association in 2002.
Riddle was one of the first America In Bloom board members, representing independent garden centers. He got Annapolis in the program and was big on beautification programs, providing baskets for Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play.
“Don Riddle was a true leader throughout this industry,” says David Williams, president of Garden Centers of America. “He generously and passionately shared his many successes with other independents in hopes of raising the bar for all independent garden centers and growers. His friendship led me to countless friends and resources that have enriched me professionally and personally including Garden Centers of America. Don’s passing is a tremendous and heartbreaking loss.”
Says A.J. Pettiti, Pettiti Garden Centers: “Don was a very, very close friend to our family. He was one of the most gentle, giving and warm-hearted people we know. I don’t know anyone who loved or contributed more to our industry. He was always willing to give and share everything he knew with others. His leadership and legacy will continue to mold our industry for many years to come. Our family will be there to support Laura and her family with anything they need.”