Dedicated volunteer and business leader Mary Riddle to be honored at graduation

Jackson Prebe, Staff Writer

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Averett University, where one will find no shortage of exam cramming, dwindling cafe swipes, and a Jut’s Bucks drought which can be felt from Main campus to North and everywhere in between. However, for some hardworking, dedicated seniors, on the horizon lies a beacon of light amongst the turmoil: Graduation. Those graduating in December are getting ready to see their years of effort and determination come to fruition, as they prepare to walk across the stage and enter into the next stage of their life, be it an internship, starting a job in their career field, or even graduate school.

While the achievements of these seniors are certainly to be commended, at this fall’s ceremony Averett will be recognizing the achievements of one of its Board of Trustee members, as Mary M. G. Riddle will be receiving an honorary doctorate from Dr. Tiffany Franks.

Mary Riddle has been on Averett’s Trustee Board for over two decades, and in her time has seen the football team be developed into a winning program, and has been a part of Dr. Franks’ continued efforts to expand upon Averett’s academic offerings and athletic success. Despite her impressive tenure at Averett, though, Riddle’s life before joining the board has been impressive.

Riddle studied business administration at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received her degree and, after graduation, had her sights set on San Francisco. Unfortunately, she may have been a bit in over her head, as she and her roommate had not made it past Atlanta before they decided to return home. This was only a minor setback, if even a setback, as she would then begin job searching, where she was fortunate enough to land a secretary position at Coca-Cola. A humble beginning in a powerful company, Riddle would go on to spend 45 years with Coke, and as one can imagine, was far from a secretary by the time she left.

During her time at Coke, Riddle’s consistency and persistence allowed her to climb the ranks from her secretary position, eventually finding herself Vice President of Flavor Ingredient Supply, the department responsible for the logistics involved in gathering the many ingredients which go into the Coca-Cola recipe. From this position she was able to enjoy her favorite part of working at Coke: the travel.

Riddle traveled all over the world, ensuring quality of ingredients coming from countries such as China, India, or Argentina (which she visited over 50 times), or even visits to the African continent, where she was sure not to miss her opportunity for a safari.

Traveling was what Riddle loved the most about her job, getting to experience a variety of different cultures and ways of life, and undoubtedly enjoying a diverse range of cuisines. Yet despite all of these unquestionably life-changing experiences, the highlight of her time at Coke was the day she met her husband of 43 years, Bill, shortly after beginning her work for the company.

While she no longer travels the world for Coke, Riddle is far from finished with her contributions to the world around her. Since retirement, Riddle has dedicated her time to volunteer work at a number of organizations, including emergency rooms, nursing agencies, and organizations committed to serving disadvantaged communities such as the Clarkstown Community Center, a center which serves refugees, or Circle Camps, which provides support and guidance for girls and young women who have suffered the loss of a parent. Additionally, she is part of the Sandy Springs Society, which raises money to provide scholarships for college students. Riddle is also heavily involved with her church

Riddle retired from Coke, and lives out retirement in Atlanta with her husband, Bill. She still serves on Averett’s Board of Trustees, serving the university diligently in the position offered to her by Averett’s previous president, Frank Campbell.

To attempt to sum up Mary Riddle’s contributions to not only Averett, but also the world outside of our small family here in Danville, in one sitting, does not do her story justice. Fortunately, for those of us who need to be reminded this holiday season, she has three simple rules by which to live in order to get the most out of not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us as well:

“Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.”

Dr. Tiffany Franks will be awarding Riddle’s honorary doctorate on December 14th, at the Winter Commencement ceremony.