Industry Mourns Loss of Homestead Gardens' Don Riddle

July 13, 2011 - 08:37

Earlier this month, Homestead Gardens owner Don Riddle was found dead at the age of 63 on a boat docked near the back of his home outside Annapolis, Maryland.

Earlier this month, Homestead Gardens owner Don Riddle was found dead at the age of 63 on a boat docked near the back of his home outside Annapolis, Maryland.

Leading up to the 1973 founding of Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Don’s green entrepreneurial spirit got its start in the backyard of the Riddle family home in Hyattsville.

To read a thoughtful recollection of Don’s life, visit

In a recent story from the Edgewater-Davidsonville Patch, reporter Cynthia Giorgio collected a few of the many reflections being shared by associates and friends:

Erik Michelsen, president of South River Federation: “Don’s commitment to the community and to protecting the health of local rivers was tremendous. As a pillar of the local business community, he was proud to give back and to make Homestead Gardens a model for beautifying the landscape while at the same time working to improve water quality. He was always excited to host Federation events at his wonderful facilities and we felt lucky to have him serving on our board. He will be missed.”

Lisa Barge , Anne Arundel Economic Development Organization: “Don was an incredible man, an extraordinary business man who truly loved life. He was passionate about his work, he treated everyone like they were special. It always amazed me to do a tour of Homestead, he knew everything about every plant, he knew every employee by name, and you could tell he enjoyed what he did. He was a tremendous asset and supporter for the agriculture in our county. He always gave 100 percent in everything he did. He will be missed by many.”

Val Hymes, writer and radio host: "(We) remember him at his produce stand in the early 70s as we commuted to Washington. We always had to stop and talk with Don and his then partner, Steve Flury, another tragic loss to the community last year. He always remembered us, and everyone else he met. We watched and cheered as he built and expanded Homestead Gardens. One of his most proud moments came when he was host to the national gathering of the Garden Centers of America in recent years. During Christmas seasons, he brought out the model trains and Santa and invited local musicians including the Singers Madrigale and the Annapolis Chorale to sing for the customers. He treated us—and his customers—like family."

Michael Galway, owner of Killarney House restaurant: I remember the first time I met Don Riddle in Killarney House. It was our first week open in the new restaurant and Don came in to welcome us to the community and wish us the best of luck That was the beginning of a marvelous relationship for us, both in business and within the community. Don was a great champion for local charity’s and he would invite us to help with whatever charitable cause he was supporting at the time. He was also a determined dealmaker and had some wonderful contacts he had built upon over his years in business in south county and he was happy to share with the newcomers in the neighborhood. … We will miss that energetic charismatic personality that was Don Riddle in our community and we will try to continue his good work as best we can.

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