Jack Ridinger, recently retired Virginia Tech police captain, suffers fatal stroke

BLACKSBURG, Va., July 21, 2006 – Jack Ridinger, a captain with the Virginia Tech Police who retired on March 31 after 26 years of service, suffered a fatal stroke on Thursday, July 20, while vacationing at Hilton Head, SC. He was 58.

A lifelong Blacksburg resident, Ridinger graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1966. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970, and subsequently studied business management at Virginia Western Community College and New River Community College.

Ridinger joined the Virginia Tech Police as an officer in 1980 and worked his way up to the rank of captain. He was instrumental in several innovative programs launched by the department, including the mounted patrol, which he founded in 1986, and the Mobile Support Services Unit—frequently seen on campus during orientation and other major events—which he built in 1992.

In his tenure with the department, Ridinger worked all of Virginia Tech's home football games, customarily serving as escort for the visiting team. He also served as the university's senior management group representative for the Combined Virginia Campaign, and in 2002 was appointed Virginia Tech's representative to Blacksburg's Transit Advisory Committee.

Virginia Tech Police Sgt. Scott Lau first met Ridinger back when Lau was an officer with the Blacksburg Police. "I was always impressed on the level of professionalism he displayed. He was my sergeant when I started with the university's department and I watched him deservedly move up the ranks. He was a true role model and highly respected throughout the law enforcement community."

Detective George Jackson, a long-time colleague of Ridinger, remembers him as "a highly motivated, respected, and dedicated member of the university and the community he served."

"He was definitely one of the good guys," said Officer Jaret Reece, another colleague and friend.

Similar comments were echoed by Charlotte Breeding, executive secretary for the Virginia Tech Police, who has known Ridinger since their days as classmates at Blacksburg High. "He was always a dedicated employee who devoted his life to serving the Virginia Tech community and upholding the law."

Wendell R. Flinchum, interim chief of Virginia Tech Police, worked with Ridinger for 21 years, and they shared an office during Ridinger's last year with the department. "He was a great individual, a great family man, and a true credit to this department, the university, and the community he loved," Flinchum said. "We certainly missed him after he retired, but now he will be even more sorely missed by his colleagues and friends here, and by all those whose lives he touched."

Ridinger was an active member of New Mount Zion Lutheran Church. He is survived by his wife, Judy, senior manager in Human Resources at Virginia Tech, two children, and a stepson. Ridinger is also survived by two sisters, seven grandchildren, and his mother, Margaret Atkainson.

Arrangements are pending at McCoy Funeral Home.