Lawrence Ridley of South Haven passed away peacefully February 7, 2020.
He was 97 years old.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Martha. He is survived by his three favorite children - Larry (Linda) Ridley of Drummonds, Tenn., Beverly (Jory) Holmes of Naples, Fla., and Annette (Jerry) Koller of South Haven; nine adored grandchildren - Larry (Marcie) Ridley, Steven (Kim) Ridley, Erin Holmes, Sarah (David) Skipper, Jordan (Dana) Koller, Lindsey (Chris) Doty, Daniel (Janine) Koller, Stephen (Brandi) Koller and Jared (Lauren) Koller; 14 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. All will miss him dearly.
Lawrence (Larry) spent his life in the South Haven area and served in the 8th Air Force during World War II, bravely serving 27 missions over Germany as a top turret gunner in a B-17 and bringing back plenty of stories he'd proudly tell and retell his children and grandchildren. He also served in the South Haven National Guard.
He met his wife upon his return from overseas; she'd intended to go out with another boy that night but dismissed him once she laid eyes on Larry. The two were married soon afterward. He celebrated 71 wedding anniversaries with his dear Martha, whom he diligently took care of in her final years of life and missed every moment after.
He had a hearty laugh and a quick sense of humor, and loved to tease and tell jokes (often the same ones more than once). He enjoyed playing cards with his family, and was a steadfast fan of "The Price Is Right," many times yelling prices at the TV and scoffing in disgust when he felt someone placed a poor bid.
As a child, he disliked school, but would mention later how they liked him so much they kept him in the same grade two years in a row. He loved the outdoors, including hunting -- particularly deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula -- gardening, and driving his grandchildren around his yard in the bright green trailer of his John Deere tractor. He loved his family above all else, and the feeling was mutual. He was a favorite not just among his own children and grandchildren but their spouses and their children as well. He had a way with life and with people, making friends wherever he went -- from McDonald's to the local pharmacy.
One of his proudest achievements was building a home for his family in Jericho using only hand tools. He also enjoyed watching his children grow up -- and later his grandchildren, many of whom enjoyed spending spring break at his house, helping plant the garden, visiting garage sales and eating strawberry shortcake.
He spent the majority of his career at Bohn Aluminum on the shipping dock, working up through the ranks, and enjoyed a long retirement. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of South Haven and a longtime usher. His family is grateful for the dozens of funny memories and antics they'll keep close to heart.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Edmond "Ned" and Ethel Ridley, as well as his five siblings. He will be cremated, with a service held Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in South Haven. In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests donations to the First Baptist Church to continue its ministry. Lawrence will be laid to rest at McDowell Cemetery in Casco Township, Michigan.
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