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February 9, 2020

James P. Ridge

Ridge, James. P. of Hull, died Feb. 9, at the age of 83, surrounded by his cherished family. 

Husband of Jean Ridge for 60 years, he was the father of Marie Pitaro (and husband Vinnie), Kathleen Sullivan (and husband Dan), Carolyn Sullivan (and husband Daniel F.) and Ellen O’Brien. And he was grandfather of 12: Mariah and Luke Ridge-O’Brien; Vincent and Christopher Pitaro; Aleigha, Brianna and James Lawless and Matthew Sullivan; Caitlin, Teresa and Danny Sullivan; and Declan O’Brien. Brother to Mary (Ridge) Swidey, he also leaves several nieces and nephews.

Born and raised in Dorchester, he was the son of the late Patrick K. Ridge and Nora (O’Brien) Ridge, both originally from Ireland, and predeceased by his brother Warren and sister Eleanor. He graduated from Boston College High School and Boston College and served in the US Army from 1959-61. He earned his master’s degree from Boston Teachers College and taught at the Phillips Brooks School in Boston before beginning a distinguished 35-year career in Hull Public Schools.

At Damon Elementary School and Memorial Middle School in Hull, he became a legendary fifth-grade teacher. Generations of students took “Mr. Ridge’s Jabberwocky Challenge” – if they memorized and recited Lewis Carroll’s poem, their last month of the year would be homework-free. Decades later, many prided themselves on still being able to recite it word for word.

He loved sports, whether refereeing basketball games or tossing around the football with students at recess. An avid golfer, he was a longtime member of South Shore Country Club in Hingham.

In his retirement, he devoted himself to his family, whether cooking them smoked shoulder dinners or showing up at their homes every weekend with coffee and doughnuts. For a recent school paper, grandson Matthew chose his “Pop” as the definition of a hero, citing his love and loyalty. “At my eighth-grade graduation, he walked half a mile in the rain to see me because his car wouldn’t start.”

An eternal optimist, he loved laughter. In his final days in the hospital, if he spotted family members starting to cry, he would stick out his tongue to make them laugh. A teacher right up until the end.

Visitation will be held from 4-7 pm on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Pyne Keohane Funeral Home in Hingham. A funeral Mass will be held at noon on Friday, Feb. 14, at St. Mary’s Church in Hull.