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Jean Montgomery Riddell

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Jean Montgomery Riddell Obituary
Riddell, Jean Montgomery of Washington, DC, died of natural causes at the age of 100 on Tuesday September 14th at The George Washington University Hospital. Mrs. Riddell was known for her commitment to the arts. Born in St Louis, MO on August 1, 1910, she was the daughter of John F. Montgomery who was the US Minister to Hungary from 1933-1941 during the Roosevelt administration. Mrs. Riddell was also the granddaughter of John Wildi who was the first to commercially manufacture evaporated milk and founded the company that ultimately became Pet Milk company. Jean Riddell was brought up in New York City. She attended The Spence School and studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League in New York. Mrs. Riddell was married to Richard John Riddell who predeceased her in 1966. He served as an officer in the Army during World War ll and after the War founded Riddell Realty Company and co-founded the National Historical Wax Museum. Mrs. Riddell had a long time commitment to the Arts and culture of Washington, DC and also was active in many local charities. She served on the board of the National Symphony and was one of the founders of the Washington Ballet, for whom she painted the scenery for the Ballet's early productions. She was a long time member of the National Society of Arts and Letters. In 1961, Mrs. Riddell's involvement in ballet lead her to form Washington's first professional ballet company, The National Ballet and it's academic school. At it's inception, the National Ballet was directed by dancer and choreographer, Frederic Franklin, previously of The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later by noted choreographer, Ben Stevenson. Mrs. Riddell was one of the principal supporters of The Paul Hill Chorale which after the untimely death of Paul Hill, evolved into the Master Chorale of Washington under the direction of Don McCullough. Chorus America awarded Mrs. Riddell the Michael Korn Founders Award in 2010. Jean Riddell was a noted collector of antique valentines and Austrian greeting cards. These collections are at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Jean Riddell has lived in Washington DC since 1940 and spent her summers in Dorset, VT. She is survived by her four children, Joan Baer, Roland Riddell, Marise Riddell and Sally Arthur. In addition she leaves 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Her burial will be in Manchester, VT. For friends and family there will be a memorial concert under the direction of Don McCullough to be held at the National Presbyterian Church at 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW., Washington, DC on October 17th at 4pm.

Published in Washington Times from Sept. 29 to Oct. 28, 2010
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