Dr. Don Ridgeway
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Dr. Don Lee Ridgeway


Dr. Don Lee Ridgeway, servant of God, was reunited with his beloved wife in eternal life on February 10, 2020. Dr. Ridgeway was a Professor of Physics and Statistics at NC State University from 1967 - 2003.

Don earned his BS from Yale University, received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, and completed a four-year fellowship under Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling at Caltech. Don continued his research in theoretical physics throughout his life, publishing three articles on quantum field theory in his late 70s. He studied classical Greek, was conversational in Japanese and French, and spoke German in the home with his late wife and her family.

Don practiced and taught karate for more than 60 years, starting as team captain at Caltech (1959-1961). Don served as a Karate Instructor in the PE Department at NCSU from 1982–1996. He taught his own dojo, leading his last class in January 2020, and formed deep relationships with many faithful students.

He was a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Raleigh, and taught a Bible study Sunday School for many years. He was elected by the Church's national convention to serve three terms on the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod from 1975 - 1989.

Don was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed hiking and skiing on Mt. Rainier. He met his wife and the love of his life, Johanna Bohacek Ridgeway, while she was a student at Vassar and he was at Yale. They married in June of 1955. Together, they loved traveling, especially visiting Johanna's family in the Czech Republic and Austria. He is survived by his two children, Eva (and Greg) May of Cary, Paul (and Laura) Ridgeway of Raleigh; grandchildren Maria May (and Shazzad Khan) and great-grandson, Dylan Khan, of Seattle; Travis (and Holly) May and great-granddaughter Sophia of San Francisco; Isaac Ridgeway and David Ridgeway of Raleigh, and his sister, Marilyn "Skeets" Sellers of Seattle.

A memorial service will be held on March 8, 2020, at 2:00 pm at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1500 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh. Those wishing to offer memorial gifts are encouraged to consider Our Savior Lutheran Church in Raleigh or the SPCA of Wake County.

Condolences may be shared at CremationSocietyNC.com

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The News and Observer on Feb. 12, 2020.
Memorial service
02:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Cremation Society of the Carolinas
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5 entries
February 13, 2020
As an active faculty member of the NCSU Department of Physics for over 40 years, I had the privilege of having long discussions almost weekly with Professor Don Ridgeway over coffee or lunch. These discussions mostly covered diverse subjects and problems in theoretical physics. I am sure that many other faculty members and students in physics, statistics, and mathematics valued similar types of discussions with Dr. Ridgeway during this time. After retirement, Dr. Ridgeway and I continued our weekly meetings most of the time through 2019 discussing theoretical physics and his interests in philosophy . I will certainly continue to greatly miss these meetings with Don.

Those who have enjoyed discussions with Dr. Ridgeway and appreciated his wide knowledge and interests in religion, philosophy, and theoretical physics may find some interest in reading his commentary "Einstein and Lanczos on the Form and Aim of Unified Field Theory in Physics," Cornelius Lanczos Collected Published Papers with Commentaries, 1998, Vol. IV,
pp. 2-1495 - 2-1521.

Deepest condolences to Professor Ridgeway's family.
William R. Davis
February 12, 2020
I was a colleague of Don through much of his career. He had many interests and we conversed often, as we had adjoining offices in the Statistics Department at NCSU. Don was indeed bright and thoughtful. More importantly, he held himself and his students to a very high standard. Don pushed himself physically very hard as well. He was strong in many ways.

In the 1970s many of our faculty ate lunch together daily. I was new then. Don was always an enthusiastic participant at our lunches together. There, I got the impression that he was a man of very strong faith. His actions were guided by his religious beliefs above all else. I am sure he passed to the next life in the comfort that such strong faith provides.
David A. Dickey
February 11, 2020
Don was the most well-educated person I have known. But beyond that, and more importantly, he was kind, compassionate, and a lot of fun.

I first met him just after he retired from an illustrious career at NC State. He had embarked upon a new project: learning French. It was my fortune that he enrolled in my beginning French class. As a mere lecturer, I was initially somewhat intimidated by having in my class this professor who far outranked me.

I needn't have worried. Don was low-key and respectful toward both me and my students - quite an asset to the class. We all loved him.

My deepest condolences to his family.
Nancy Swisher
February 11, 2020
Nancy Swisher
February 11, 2020
Nancy Swisher
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