Margaret Amelia Riddle, 99, Baltimore County educator


Margaret Amelia Riddle, a retired Baltimore County school teacher and vice principal who taught several generations of students during a career of more than four decades, died from stroke complications March 7 at Augsburg Lutheran Home and Village in Lochearn. The former Hebbville resident was 99.

Miss Riddle was born in Woodlawn and raised in her parents' home on Rolling Road in Hebbville - where she spent the remainder of her life until moving to the retirement home in 2001.

"She used to tell stories about riding to Hebbville Elementary School in a cart that was pulled by a pony named Brownie," said a niece, Anna Lee Riddle Hinson of Annapolis.

She was one of 18 students in the graduating class at Randallstown High School in 1924.

She received her teaching degree from the former Maryland State Normal School in Towson in 1926, and did graduate studies in education at the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University.

Miss Riddle taught third-graders at Essex Elementary School from 1926 until 1933, when she joined the faculty at Woodlawn Elementary. In addition to teaching second-graders there, she was named the school's vice principal in 1934 and served in that capacity until retiring in 1972.

"She taught several generations of students from the same family and obviously impressed a lot of them because they came to see her and kept in touch," Mrs. Hinson said. "She had definite opinions and was outspoken and not shy."

"I didn't think she was still around and when I heard that she was, I went to see her [at Augsburg] and brought her a big, shiny red apple," said Charles E. Chalmers, who had been her pupil in 1932 and hadn't seen her since 1936. "She left a lasting impression on me because of the interest she took in us. And she called us her children, because she never married and had children of her own."

"Being strict was what made her a great teacher," said the Rev. Bronson Staley a retired educator and semi-retired United Church of Christ pastor who was her pupil in 1935. "She set high standards and was strict with affection and concern for her pupils. Her classrooms were businesslike and orderly," he said.

"In recognition of the affection that people felt for Miss Riddle, on the 30th anniversary of our class, we decided to have a class reunion at Patapsco State Park. She helped us locate classmates because she had kept files with our names," Mr. Staley said. "We had a picnic and she came. And you could see how delighted she was."

Mr. Staley also visited her at the Lochearn retirement community.

"I just saw her a few months ago and she was sharp as a tack and very alert. She was just a wonderful person," he said.

"She always took an individual interest in her students," said her niece. "She had a boy who was having trouble seeing, so she took him to the doctor and found out he needed glasses. So she bought him a pair of glasses. Of course, a teacher couldn't do that now."

Miss Riddle purchased the family home from her parents' estate in 1937, and continued living there until selling it to the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church in 2001.

Fiercely independent, Miss Riddle lived alone in her home and drove her car until she was in her 90s.

"She had good genes and never smoked or drank. She didn't do much exercise and ate what she wanted," her niece said.

Miss Riddle enjoyed collecting antiques and information on her family's history.

She was a lifelong member of Emmarts United Methodist Church.

Services were Saturday.

Also surviving are a nephew, Dr. William L. Riddle of Port Deposit; another niece, Caroline Riddle Ritter of Baltimore; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

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