Lived to the age of eighty
Lived to the age of seventy-nine
taken in the late 1970's
The life stories of Willard and Mildred Ridgway are inextricably attached to the small town of Carroll, Ohio. Carroll had grown at the junction of the Ohio and Hocking Canals in Fairfield County in the 1830s. By 1900 the canals were no longer in use but Carroll was left as the center of the surrounding farm community. The town had about 400 residents, a couple of churches, various business establishments and the school. Willard and Mildred both lived practically their entire lives in Carroll. They both came there when they were quite young, went to school, married, raised their children, took an active part in the community, lived out their retirement years, and are now buried in the cemetery there.

Willard Creighton Ridgway was born on September 12, 1900 in Georgetown, Ohio. He was the fourth of five children born to James and Martha Arnett Ridgway, tenant farmers whose ancestors had come from Pennsylvania. The family moved to a farmhouse a few miles outside of Carroll shortly after Willard was born. Typical of the time, Willard did farm work as a young boy. He started to school in 1906. He was an above average student and graduated in 1918. In school he participated in various plays and excelled in the pole vault and various track events, but his first love was baseball. He was exceptionally fast, running the bases in 14 seconds. After graduating he continued to play baseball for a number of years for a variety of Carroll and Lancaster teams. Numerous newspaper clippings attest to his hitting, base running, and outfielding prowess. He got his first real job as a tire molder for Lancaster Tire Company. In the early 1920s he started dating Mildred Kull.

Mildred Lucille Kull had moved to Carroll when she was twelve years old. She had been born in Zanesville, Ohio on April 9, 1903, the second of two children born to Samuel and Etta Kraner Kull. Samuel had moved his family to Lancaster, Ohio and subsequently to Carroll, where he opened a hardware store. The store was moderately successful and in 1919 he purchased the house at 69 Market Street. Mildred’s older sister Flossie died of tuberculosis in 1921 leaving a daughter Esther to be raised in the Kull household. Mildred attended school in Carroll from the seventh grade through graduation. She loved school and was selected valedictorian of her graduating class. Some of her fondest memories later in life were of the antics of she and her teenage school chums Christine Brandt, Grace Barrow, and Margaret Coffman. After graduating from high school Mildred continued to live at home. She was active in Methodist church functions and community plays. She was an accomplished whistler and enjoyed writing and performing skits. Shortly after high school she started dating Willard Ridgway.

Willard and Mildred get married February 9, 1926. They move into an upstairs’ room of Mildred’s parents’ house on Market Street. This makes five in the house, with Mildred’s parents and twelve-year-old niece, Esther. Samuel Kull runs his hardware store, Willard works at the Lancaster Tire Company, Esther goes to school, and Mildred helps her mother run the house. Willard and Mildred have Gerald, their first of four sons, in June of 1927. Two years later in March of 1929, Richard is born. Roger is born in August of 1932 and Dennis in May of 1935. Esther leaves to go to college in 1932. Mildred keeps busy raising four boys and taking an increasing portion of the household responsibilities as her mother gets older. Through these depression years Willard is never out of work. They raise chickens, tend a large garden, and can the produce to help put food on the table for the household of eight. Mildred becomes a very good cook. Among the dishes that become family favorites are vegetable soup, nut-bread, oatmeal cookies, fried chicken, corn on the cob, pimentos stuffed with cabbage, and peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. Another special family treat was ice cream from Hordy’s restaurant.

In 1937 the Kull Hardware Store burns to the ground. There is no insurance on the store and Samuel Kull at the age of 74 starts over from scratch. He reopens his hardware store in a new location down the street and operates it there for the next twelve years. Willard leaves Lancaster Tire Company, works as a garage mechanic for Jimmy Ward for a couple of years, tries his hand at running a garage of his own, and then works as a mechanic and body-man for Campbell Motors in Lancaster. In 1942 he goes to work at Curtis Wright Aviation in Columbus where he becomes foreman of the department that hangs propellers. The four Ridgway boys deliver the Columbus Dispatch newspaper for about 12 years.

However all is not work. Willard enjoys bowling, pool, golf, and family croquet. He coaches various baseball and basketball teams. Mildred and Willard perform in many comedies and minstrel shows. Mildred is the Secretary Treasurer of the Methodist Church and continues to be active in church social events. In 1939 Willard is elected to the Board of Education for Carroll School on which he serves for a number of years off and on until 1953. They attend the various school functions in which their four boys are involved. A Lion’s Club is started in Carroll and Willard is selected as the charter president. A position he holds for three terms.

The late 1940s and early 1950s saw many changes in the lives of Willard and Mildred. During this period the household shrinks from eight to just the two of them. Mildred’s father had passed away in 1949. Her mother died in 1953. Garry had served two years in the Army in Korea before returning and marrying Jean Woodgeard in 1947. Dick served two years in the Army, was wounded in the Korean War, returned and married Barbara Thompson in 1953. Roger married Hilda Lyle in 1956. Dennis had joined the Marines in 1953 and then married Rae Adams in 1958. In addition to all of these changes in the household another change altered their lives more. In 1954 Willard had some health problems and decided to not return to his work at North American Aviation. Samuel Kull’s hardware store had been taken over by Frank his brother when Samuel died. In 1954, Willard and Mildred bought the hardware store from Frank and operated it successfully for twelve years until their retirement. Willard was handy at repairing things so customers would frequent the store to have a problem solved as much as to buy merchandise. Willard was very fair-minded and consequently sold things at a low price.

When they retired in 1966, they auctioned off the hardware store and its’ contents. They travel quite a bit, a luxury they never had before. Willard plays a lot of golf. They continue to enjoy their house and garden. Willard oversees the apple picking at Lutz’s orchard for a couple of years. In 1975 they are honored as the King and Queen of the Carroll Old Timers Celebration. In 1976 they hold an open house to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Willard is honored with a prestigious Lifetime Membership in the International Association of Lion’s Clubs in 1978. They have fifteen healthy retirement years to enjoy together. In 1981 Willard died rather suddenly. Mildred continued to live in the house in Carroll for a year before spending her last months with son Dennis and his wife Rae in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mildred suffered from osteoporosis and died in 1983, one month short of her 80th birthday. They both are buried in the Carroll Cemetery. Willard and Mildred left four sons and ten grandchildren.

Excerpt from Willard's graduation picture -
Carroll H.S. class of 1918.

Excerpt from Mildred's graduation picture -
Carroll H.S. class of 1922.

The Kull/Ridgway family home.

Willard and Mildred on the
steps of the hardware store.


This page last updated on December 28, 2009 .