Services for Rita Grace Ridley, 99, were Monday at Shannon Funeral Home, Shelbyville, and Tuesday afternoon at Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church.

Burial followed at Rosedale Cemetery.

Rita Grace died Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

She was born Sept. 24, 1920, in Dawson Springs. She was the daughter of Alberta Creekmur Chester and Alton Chester and wife of Raymond Travis Ridley.

Rita Grace graduated from Dawson Springs High School in 1938 and attended Western Kentucky State Teachers College (1939). She married her high school sweetheart, Travis Ridley, in 1940. In the late 1950s, "Ms. Rita" started an early childhood development center in her home. Later, she started the first public kindergarten at Dawson Springs Independent Schools, a true pioneer educator. During the summer months, she mentored young adults as the dining room supervisor at Pennyrile State Park.

One of her most challenging occupations for 15 years was teacher and supervisor at Outwood State Hospital for special needs adults. Relying on her educational background and Christian love of others, she achieved a successful career of helping the residents. Also, she served her local community in many ways, as president of the PTA, Band Boosters, Hopkins County Ethics commission, and a Hopkins County Ambassador.

At the young age of 64, she accepted a position in Frankfort as the Lt. Governor Mansion Director for four years, followed by several years training students at the Hopkins County Vocational School in the hospitality field. Her hospitality and entrepreneurial career continued into her mid-80s as she converted her family home of 65 years into a local bed and breakfast, entertaining many Kentucky visitors from throughout the U.S. and foreign countries.

Rita loved the Lord and was a faithful and dedicated life member of the Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church. She was a true example of Christian action, never met a stranger and always saw the good in everyone. There was always a place at her table for a guest to break bread together and she could quickly fix a banquet for 20 or more in short notice.

Ms. Rita was an exceptional human being who enthusiastically encouraged and motivated countless youth and adults with kindness, compassion and a strong Christian influence. She was an amazing lady and greatly loved by all who knew her.

Survivors include her four children, Michael Travis (Jean Carol) Ridley, Murray, Virginia Ridley (Bob, deceased) Stallins, Shelbyville, John Ridley, Bowling Green, and Kenneth Ridley, Dawson Springs; seven grandchildren, Dianna Ridley (Mark) Arnett, Kelly Ridley (Chris) Douglas, Murray, Kim Stallins Dobler, Bowling Green, Judy Stallins (Eric) Phillips, Shelbyville, John Bennett (Chrissi) Ridley, Bowling Green, Raymond Dyer (Bridget) Ridley and Lucas Harrington Ridley; and 16 great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Rita Grace Ridley Scholarship fund at the College Heights Foundation, Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd., Bowling Green, KY 42101 or the Primitive Baptist Church, 200 Walnut St., Dawson Springs, KY 42408.