- Last Updated on 07:59 AM 08/08/12
- BY Doug Ford
Our community lost a good man last week, and yours truly lost a fine friend… Samuel Lacy Riddle Jr., or Sonny to his family, friends and co-workers.
I regret I didn’t get to know Sonny earlier, before he came to work at The Gazette-Virginian, but we packed a lifetime of friendship into the final five years of his life.
Sonny was a big man with an even bigger heart, a true Renaissance man and educator turned radio broadcaster turned newspaper reporter and columnist.
Everyone remembers Sonny’s quick wit and sense of humor and his ability to relate to different types of people.
Everybody seemed to know and like Sonny, and Sonny seemed to know and like everybody, and it was his basic humanity that stood out more than anything else.
If someone fell ill, Sonny and his family were right there to help if needed.
I can’t recall how many meals I ate at his house after my mother was hospitalized and now many other occasions he invited me over for things such as birthday and holiday celebrations and the Super Bowl.
I recall his time at the Gazette where he went “bald for a cause” to benefit the Halifax County Cancer Association.
He had soft spot in his heart for animals, and he would have loved the Gazette’s adopted beagle, Buddy.
Visitors to Sonny’s home are greeted by the happy barks of Roxy, Kimber, Spooky and Ruger, and at one time Pepper and Zeus.
Sonny’s last column ran in the Sept. 14, 2011 edition of the Gazette-Virginian, shortly before his retirement, and I inherited his column space starting Oct. 5.
In my first column I noted Sonny’s kind and gentle spirit, along with his caring attitude for those around him, and those words were never truer, even as Sonny battled the various ailments that eventually took their toll.
Above all else, Sonny loved his family, and that love was evident whenever I had the pleasure of his company before and after his retirement.
It’s not up to us to determine how and when we leave this planet for a better life, rather, as was said during Sonny’s service, God has his own timetable.
We’ll miss him, but Sonny Riddle is home at last.