My father…

Dad doing one of the things he loved most!

I write this post under the saddest of circumstances.  My father passed away on Monday night.  We had just had a family picnic and were sitting down to have drinks… 

So, here is Wednesday, and what do I have to say for myself.  Well, my father and I were very close.  We always were!  Thick as thieves for the past 33 years.  My father was a professor of biology at UNB for many years (from 1972 until he retired), but music was always one of the things that we shared.  I started playing the violin when I was six because he played the violin around the house.  My older brother had also started lessons, and I wanted to join in.  One of my favourite photos from my childhood was of me standing on the footstool moving the pistons on Dad’s tuba while he played.  This goes back a long time!  Other than music, we shared a love of the outdoors and of the water. 

As mentioned, my father was a prof.  He loved his work and did a great job at it.  He had a reputation for being tough…  no bird courses with him, but he was fair and always aided those who seeked help.  At the end of his career he was in essence a guidance councilor to undergraduate students on top of his regular teaching assignments.  A dedicated man who caught the 6:30am bus to work…  A man who prepped all of his lectures the morning of…  The man who never had lecture notes for students to copy….  It was all in his head! 

Family Fun...

We played music together from the time that I started playing the violin…  Violin duets, fiddle duets, tuba/violin duets, and, of course, family fun…  This meant that every Sunday night the whole family (me on violin, my mother on clarinet, my brother on viola, and

Fredericton Fiddle Orchestra 2008

my father on tuba) would play music together.  Classical, Broadway, Australian Drinking Songs…  This was a tradition that we continued every Christmas eve right up until the last Christmas.  If he and I were in the same house,

York Early Music Ensemble 2010

there was always music!  Recently (five years ago) I had started both a fiddle group and an amateur baroque music string ensemble, and my father joined both.  The fiddle group was really more to be with me and my mom as the music was no challenge for him, but the early music group was something that made him push himself and work on the violin more than usual. 

TubaFest 2011

My father ran the Fredericton International TubaFest.  This is a two-day event to which he invited usually at least three clinicians and a pianist and at which we usually had 15-20 participants.  The last one he ran in 2011 was our 8th year.  One of our clinicians had passed away (John Griffiths) and we had a memorial to him during our 7th annual event.  Mom and I are thinking of running the event one final time in 2012 as a memorial to Dad.  My father had been attending tuba conferences around the continent and had decided to hold one in our hometown.  He was dedicated enough to this event to take it on singlehanded and to be willing to bankroll it if necessary.  It never came to that, but he would have been willing.

So, what else can I tell you about my father.  He loved to travel, and instilled that love in me early on!  During my childhood we lived in New Zealand twice and Texas once.  We drove across Canada in a van one summer and drove down to Texas the year we lived there.  We traveled to Hawaii and Puerto Rico as well.  Since I moved out, my parents have also lived in Australia and British Columbia.  I made the trip to visit both times. 

Birch Island

My father passed way during a family vacation to Maine.  My family owns a small island on a lake in Southern Maine where my aunt and uncle reside during the summer.  This island is where my father spent his summers as a child.  He loved the water…  Loved being in it and on it, a love that I share.  We have enjoyed many an early morning paddle on the lake before the wind picked up and before most everyone else was

Camp through the mist...

awake…  that magical time when the water is still warmer than the air and there is mist rising off of it.  My uncle read a letter to us this visit that his mother had written in which it mentioned that my father had just come in with yet more fish, and that he had been called off of the lake to come do his chores.  It is a nice circular situation that led my father back to the place of his childhood for his death.

My father had been short of breath for a few days and was going to visit the doctor upon our return to get everything checked out.  He did not want to miss this vacation.  We had a really good day on Monday with him coming for a swim with us.  He had actually commented on how good he felt that morning, and he seemed to have a bit more of a spark in his eye.  Mom and I had gone for a canoe and picked some blueberries as well.  In the evening we had a cook-out with hamburgers, chips and dip, and then were settling in to evening drinks when my father’s breathing became very laboured and he essentially lost consciousness for a couple of minutes.  As we were in the process of calling 911, he came to.  He wasn’t sure why we were all panicking and wanted to know what was wrong.  We told him what had happened and that we were taking him to the hospital.  We only got him part way to the boat to shore before he collapsed.  He never made it to the hospital.

Dad and my nieces.

There are lots of good things about this story.  My father was well right up to his death.  He was able to come on vacation with us one last time to his childhood summer home, a place that he loved!  He felt pretty good and was able to participate in the activities of the day, although he did feel tired.  He got to visit with my brother, his wife and children just last month.  I was here with my mother, and

Christmas 2008

she was surrounded with family.  Also, my father had that one final lucid moment with us…  He didn’t understand why we were panicking.  I asked him to raised his arms, speak a sentence, and my aunt got him to stick out his tongue.  He did everything we requested, although when he stuck out his tongue, he did wave it around a bit and roll it up just to poke fun at us for our worry.  I will always remember that moment!

Mom and Dad at fiddle camp.

So many fond memories of my father…  When I was in high school we went to the Gaelic College in St. Anne’s, Cape Breton together to study fiddling.  He and I were in all of the same classes, sat next to each other, and were generally considered to be trouble.  Also in high school he and I shared a music stand in the local community orchestra.  We were enough trouble there that I was moved to first violin while he was kept on second violin.  We still managed to sit next to each other and cause trouble!  My father lived a great life, and if he were here, it seems to me that he should have no regrets.  He and my mother traveled a lot, and traveled even more after he was retired.  Just last winter they drove to Arkansas to visit my aunt, went to Nashville, Branson, Arlington…  The spent a month and a half traveling around.  They still had plans for places to go, but were not putting anything off for later.  A full life with more dreams left.  I feel lucky that my parents were still planning.  They were not in a home, they were not incapacitated in anyway…  My father in essence died the way that most of us hope to:  quickly, painlessly, after a great day, and surrounded by family.  Also, my mother has been left with lots of support!  It will of course be hard, but there are still lots of us around to help out! 

My father and the instructors from fiddle camp. As far as I know, this is the most recent photo of him.

RIP Richard T. Riding, born Jan 6, 1943, died August 1st, 2011.

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47 thoughts on “My father…

  1. Dear Katherine…I’m so sorry for your loss…am sure you realize the most
    unique ,special and wonderous relationship you had with your Dad.Thank
    you for sharing your memories with all who knew and loved him…he truly
    was one of a kind.I feel lucky to have known him.Love Margie

  2. Katherine, I am so sorry for your loss. I always felt at home with you and your parents and love being with all of you! I am so glad I came up to see you this weekend. He was so proud of you and excited for your trip to Maine. I love the hidden smiles and twinkling eyes in your family. I, like everyone who encountered you, enjoyed feeling a part of the Riding camaraderie. Yours is a family to model. I also feel lucky to know all of you and so glad to have known your dad. Love Angela-Jo xoxox

  3. Katherine:
    I just got word tonight that you dad had passed away. I am still shocked. I just saw your parents at the F’ton Concert & Marching Band concert in Officers’ Square 2 weeks ago, but didn’t get a chance to say hello to them, with all the goings-on after the concert.
    What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I always enjoyed talking to your dad whenever I had the occasion to…he never spoke to me like I was a kid, when I was “a kid” and I enjoyed his sense of humour. He made band fun to be in! 🙂
    Thank you for choosing to share your thoughts & memories of your dad here…you did a beautiful job.
    Much love and prayers for you & your family during this time,
    Anne

  4. Oh Katherine, I am so sorry! Even on the other side of the world your father is remembered with love and affection. Unlikely as it may sound, I was thinking of him only yesterday: I was working on Rangitoto Island, that very young volcano just off Auckland City. On one of your visits to New Zealand we had gone there together, and I recall that Dick, the dedicated and precise botanist, was moving along at snail’s pace, because every step revealed a new botanical treasure for him to admire. The rest of our party made it to the summit and returned, panting, to find your father, still happily engrossed, barely twenty paces from the dock.
    Thank you for your lovely memorial to a special man. With love, Anne Rimmer

  5. Katherine I am so sorry to hear that your dad died. I have great memories of playing in the FCMB with him over the years. What a great man! I pray that God’s comfort will help you through this loss. Clearly you have lots of positive memories stocked up, and what a great memorial you have written!

  6. Katherine,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom. You are right that he did pass in a great way after a wonderful day and excellent time with family. richard was so special in so many ways. I feel fortunate to have known him and we always enjoyed our time together.

  7. Katherine,

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. You had a very special relationship with your Dad – thank you for sharing your memories so beautifully. You father certainly was a character! He will be remembered fondly by me and countless others.

    Take care,
    Andrea

  8. I am so sorry Richard has passed. He left a hole however he left his mark too in many places and on many people. You filled my need to know more Katherine in your wonderfully written tribute to this great man. I adored him. I wonder if he ever knew how many people wanted to sit beside him just so they could play better, following his unique “sound.” He gave me so much in my playing such as the desire to play in flats although I was one who pretended he was being cruel making us play flats when you were away from Orchestra. I began naming tunes a “Richard Tune” when it was one in flats. He was an amazing man as is your family. Also, Richard not only gave of himself with music……. life’s lessons will be remembered forever…..I feel fortunate to have known him.

    Sue

  9. I’ve only met your father a few times. Still, he was always kind and good to me. Certainly a gentleman and a very kind man who has raised his family well. My deepest thoughts and prayers to all of you during this time.

  10. I’m very, very sorry to hear about your loss, Katherine. 😦 I didn’t know your father well, but I remember him from the UNB Concert Band and he was always so nice and kind to me. He would always, always greeted me outside of rehearsals (usually while we were on the bus), and it made me feel good to be recognized and acknowledged. I am thinking of and praying for you during this time.

  11. Oh Katherine , I am so sorry for your loss. I feel very lucy to have known such a wonderful man. I loved the way he was so down to earth and never put on airs. And like you said you were lucky to have had him live and die the way we all would like to, having a wonderful time with family and friends right up until the last breath.

  12. Katherine – thankyou so much for sharing your thoughts about your Dad. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with both of you in the YEME and really appreciated his dedication, hard work and fun-loving attitude. He was a great guy to share time with and I will miss him very much. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, God bless
    Scott

    and

  13. Dear Katherine, I am very sorry to hear of your sad loss. You truly are a wonderful family and I hope that your wealth of magical memories will help you and all those dear to you through this difficult time. It is comforting to know that your father was doing what he loved to do best. He was certainly blessed.

  14. Dear Katherine, This is the first I’ve heard of your father’s passing and just want to offer my condolences in this difficult time. Your blog offers a wonderful tribute to your dad who leaves a legacy of love behind. So sorry for your loss.

    Thinking of you and your family,
    Sara

  15. Dear Katherine,

    I am so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. Your tribute to him is lovely and would have made him proud. I love the part about you two being “trouble” whenever you sat next to each other in orchestra. 🙂 Life is precious and I am reminded to cherish every moment. Take care, my thoughts are with you.

    Susan

  16. Katherine and Alice – Condolences and sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Jim Hayden

  17. There are moments in everyone’s life when things happen and disbelief is followed by sadness. It has happened to me 3 times in my life. Knowing your father and mother has been one of the highlights of my life. I can only echo all the comments you have received. A beautiful tribute.

  18. Katherine, please accept my most profound sympathy. Your tribute to your father was very moving and heartfelt. It is, indeed, the way we all want to go, but it is a terrible wrench for those who remain behind. I know. Is there anything helpful I can do? Do you want relief from the Casemate assignment?

  19. Katherine, I’m in shock! My prayers and thoughts are with you, your Mum and Timothy.Thankyou for your memories it brought back a lot of good ones for me of a man with a wonderful smile, who shared his love of music with us so willingly. Our community will not be the same without him.

  20. Dear Katherine,
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of your dad. Gary, CJ, Ellie, Mac and I are so sorry for your loss. We’re also so grateful that your dad was on the island with his family when he passed. As difficult as it must be for you all, what a serendipitous blessing to have been in a place he loved and with those he loved. I recently lost my dad, too, and know how healing it is to share the father you knew and loved with all those who care about you. We have enjoyed Bob and Susie’s friendship for many years and feel like family, so please accept our condolences and know that we are keeping you all in our prayers.
    Sincerely,
    Judy Lamb

  21. Dear Katherine,

    IT IS WITH GREAT SHOCK AND SADNESS THAT IFOUND OUT ABOUT YOUR FATHER’S PASSING ON FACEBOOK. HOWIE, CHRIS CYNTHIA AND I EXTEND OUR SINCERE CONDOLENCES. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME. I CAN SEE BY YOUR BLOG THAT YOU ARE VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE HAD SUCH WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF A VERY LOVING FATHER AND YOUR MOM AN AMAZING HUSBAND.

  22. Dear Katherine,
    This was so beautifully written. Your father’s story is something very inspiring. The finest example of parent, musician, and teacher. May we all have lives so full.

    My deepest sympathy for your loss. Take care.
    Matthew Wright

  23. Katherine;
    The depth of your loss is evident in the story that you shared. I offer my deepest condolence to you and Alice.

  24. Katherine.

    I am sorry for your loss. My knowledge of your Father was limited to my experiences at the International Tuba Festival. These experiences gave me great appreciation for his love of music. I am grateful for the hundreds of hours of effort that he and you and your Mother put into organizing the Tuba Festival. I have a fine memory of the last time I saw him, which was a sunny Sunday morning in May, playing hymns. He will be missed.

  25. Katherine,
    I feel a deep loss in hearing you father has passed away. I cannot think of Tuba fest without seeing him and was looking forward to seeing him in Cape Breton at the end of September. We often sat beside one another at Tuba fest, us both playing Eb. We joked together and talked music – he was aways such a gentleman. please accept my deepest condolances.

  26. ‘Great man, great loss, many thoughts are with all of the Riding Family. Elliott Woodbury – Euphonium, Lisbon Falls, Maine.

  27. Katherine,

    I only met your father this year at TubaFest 2011. He was a fantastic man and very helpful. I am sending out my deepest condolences and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this hard time.

  28. It takes a uniquely ambitious and generous man to start a tuba festival anywhere, never mind in Fredericton, NB. But that’s what he did, that’s how I met him, and that’s how I’ll remember him. Richard’s was a life very well lived. May your music and rich memories bring you comfort and peace. With my deepest sympathy, Glenda Metcalf

  29. Dear Katherine,
    That was an absolutely beautiful post. It filled my heart with sadness that such a wonderful person was taken from you and your family, but it also made me smile. His life sounded rich and full of joys – of which his family were his greatest I have no doubt. Not many are given the chance to be best friends with their sons or daughters and I am so happy that you got to have that with your dad. I don’t think you will ever be without him, because the way you described him is how I see you, (kind, generous, free spirited, determined, wonderful person with a beautiful soul) so wherever you are, a piece of him will always be there.

    Thank you for sharing! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Gail

  30. Oh Katherine, I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Your Dad was such a special person and I always looked forward to bantering with him when he dropped by the Festival office. I will remember him for having such a joyful zest for life, a deliciously wicked sense of humour, a great appetite for all things musical and a wonderful curiosity about the world. He will leave such a big space, but so many wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing those memories here with those of us who enjoyed knowing your Dad immensely. He was so very proud of you and your achievements. My deepest condolences to you and your family at this difficult time.

    Nancy

  31. I’m so sorry to hear of your father’s death, Katherine, but I am incredibly moved by your wonderful tribute to him. He really was a very special person, and I will miss him. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, now and always. Take care!

    Love to all,
    Bob

  32. Katherine,
    I am so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing, he will be greatly missed. I first met him and your mom about 15 years ago when they showed up at TubaChristmas in Freeport ME and liked them right away. Since then they have been welcome regulars at our event and will be missed by all of our participants who have found them to be friendly, gracious people. After being personally invited so many times by your dad to come to Fredricton to your Tubafest, I was pleased to find last year that you had moved the event from the end of May to the beginning which made it possible for me to attend and am very glad I did. He did a wonderful job in putting that event together, obviously with the able help of you and your mom.
    I am planning to attend your Tubafest this coming year and please forward some of your event flyers to me and I will see that they get distributed to the our TubaChristmas people.
    I am sure that I echo the sentiments of the Maine contingent when I express my sorrow for your loss and wish nothing but the best to you and your family for now and the future.

    Sincerely, Eric D. Anderson, Coordinator TubaChristmas for Maine

  33. I am so shocked to hear the news. Richard was a vibrant foundation for the Brass Menagerie. The twinkle in his eye and his musical sense of humour was always present. It has been an honour and a pleasure to make music beside him and we will always remember him.

  34. Meeting Richard and Alice was among the discovered treasures in moving to Fredericton.
    (It is impossible for me to talk about Richard without Alice.)
    I was immediately struck by their sense of sharing and community spirit in the context of music, welcoming me into the ensembles.
    I was fortunate to play next to him on many occasions.
    I will miss him a lot.

    I hope that we can keep Richard’s legacy going here in Fredericton or the Atlantic region.

    Sincerely,

    William McIver, Jr.

  35. My condolences and sympathy for you and your family. When I saw the e-mail header I said “Oh no” right away I suspected what the message would be. I gladly read your tribute. I only knew him from a couple of Tubafests and a couple of bandfests. I found him to be a fast friend with a great voice and easy going attitude. I’ll miss right away at the next bandfest and, of course his Tubafest

    John MacDonald
    Holland College Welshmen Band ( Charlottetown )

  36. It is indicative of Richard’s kindness and generosity that although we met in person only twice and exchanged mail a few times he had a disproportionate impact on me, both personally and as a tubist. Reading others’ comments, I see that my experience was not unique. He leaves a legacy which would be an honour to anyone.

    Burton Leathers
    Annapolis Basin Community Band

  37. So sorry to hear about your Dad. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered. Sincere condolences to you and your Mom. Our thoughts are with you.

  38. Dear Katherine,
    Bob and Sue told me about your dad’s passing on their visit Sunday. I am so sorry. Sixty-nine seems too young these days. Through it all, the story of him being well right up to the event and being on the island with family when it happened is perfect. Obviously, we all need to make more music while we can. Love to you and your family,

    Ann MacEachern

  39. Dear Katherine,

    We are so sorry to hear of your family’s loss. It was always such a treat to see you, your father and mother and brother playing together, and so obviously enjoying it.
    Yes, it was about the wonderful music you made together, but it was also about the family, and the warmth you shared with us.
    Carol and Michael Sears

    PS We saw an ad for a used tuba at the Sussex giant flea market, an immediately thought of your Dad and his great tuba buddies!

  40. Dear Katherine,
    Lance and I are very sad to hear of your dad’s passing. We had a great time at every Tubafest
    and your father was always so generous and grateful to the clinicians.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom. We will always keep a special place in our hearts for Richard. Jean S.

  41. Dear Katherine and Alice,
    Jean and I were so shocked and saddened by the news of Richard’s death. He was a great man and a joy to be around. We will miss his delightful sense of humour and his passion for music and the tuba. Thank you Richard for being you-honest, generous, thoughtful – and for sharing your love of life. We hold in our hearts the very fond memories of our times together. Our deepest sympathies to you ,Katherine and to Alice . You are in our thoughts and prayers. Lance and Jean

  42. Hi Katherine!
    Your father was my absolute favorite profs at UNB. I loved his courses so much I took almost every single one. Fromm 2003-2004, there was a very dedicated, yet small, group of botany students. We were his groupies- and at times, to his amusement, referred to him as Santa for his wonder gift of grade scaling on our final marks in December. He was extremely influential in my life and after graduating I went to Guelph to complete my M.Sc. in Botany. And to think that I only took that first course as a bird course! Whenever I think of my years at UNB, your father is always at the very front of my memories.

    Walking down the halls of Bailey Hall, one might think that he was grumpy, but I know it was all a ploy and that he was extremely caring, fair, and helping. And the sarcasm! I always had to look at his eyes to see if he was serious or joking! I remember that just before I graduated, he took our class upstairs to his lab space. I was so excited – I didn’t even know he had lab space other than where he taught and the room across the hall! In class, he would say how he didn’t like kids and pretend to be serious and grumpy. But as soon as I entered the lab, there were multiple pictures hung on the walls- pictures made by small hands and were proudly on display.

    I will always fondly remember your father. While I do not remember specific examples, I know he spoke fondly of you, because 7 years after I left Fredericton, I remembered he had a daughter, Katherine. I loved our talks on evolution, vegetarianism, using people to show scale in photos (I think he showed your family vacation photos in class) of plants, botany, music (and how he would have a little rhythmic bobbing whenever talking about tubas).

  43. Dear Katherine and Alice:
    My sincere condolences to you and your family. I arrived home yesterday after a month in UK and have just read your wonderful tribute to Richard. He was a fine gentleman and I always looked forward to the Fredericton Tubafest bringing us all together with world class clinicians.
    We shall all greatly miss Richard.
    Sincerely
    Ken Howells

  44. Katherine,
    I am sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. My thoughts are with you and your mom. Richard was special in many ways. It was fortunate that he passed away surrounded by his family after a wonderful day at his family retreat in Maine. I first met him and your mom about 6 years ago when he told me about Tuba Fest when they were at TubaChristmas in Freeport ME. I found them to be friendly, gracious people. Since I was personally invited by your dad to come to Fredricton to your Tubafest so I decided to attend. I feel fortunate to have known him and appreciated his dedication to providing a wonderful learning experience for tuba and euphonium players. Richard will be greatly missed by all the Tubafest participants. He did a wonderful job in putting the event together, with the help of you and your mom.
    I plan to attend your Tubafest this coming year and hope you will consider keeping it going in the future. I express my sorrow for your loss and wish the best to you, your mother and your family.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Ewing,
    Coordinator for TubaChristmas, Wolfeboro, NH

  45. Katherine,
    To you and all your family, we offer our deepest sympathy. Richard’s passing leaves a big hole in Fredericton’s music community. I always enjoyed working with Richard on Tubafest. He was straightforward, friendly, and had a great sense of humor. His love for music was deep. It was impressive to see how much time and work he devoted to making Tubafest an enjoyable time for everyone. The concert Friday night was such a wonderful and warm tribute for him.

    Virginia & Willis

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