One of the biggest champions of U of M women's sports has died at 94

Kathleen C. Ridder was a namesake of the women's hockey arena at the U of M.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

People who knew Kathleen Ridder say she was a gifted athlete – but in the sports world there weren't a whole lot of doors open to women born in the 1920s. Ridder spent the rest of her life opening more opportunities for women – in athletics, politics, and other walks of life. She died this week at age 94, the University of Minnesota says.

In 2002 she dropped the puck at the opening of Ridder Arena, which the U of M says was the first college hockey rink built specifically for a women's team. She and her husband, Robert Ridder Sr., were the major donors for construction of the building, though he did not live to see it finished.

Activism went beyond athletics

Ridder endowed scholarships for female student-athletes, but her philanthropy and activism reached into politics and human rights, as well.

Born in New York, she moved to Minnesota in the 1940s and earned a teaching degree at the U of M campus in Duluth.

Ridder, a Republican, joined forces with Democrat Marlene Johnson and formed the Minnesota Women's Campaign Fund in 1982 to encourage more women to run for office, the Star Tribune reports. Johnson, who became the state's first female lieutenant governor, told the paper Ridder spent decades advancing the role of women in society.

The U of M says Ridder volunteered to serve on various boards and charitable groups, including the Minnesota Board on Human Rights.

Chris Voelz, who was women's athletic director at the U of M from 1988 to 2004, said of Ridder: "Her fierce, relentless pursuit of justice was always an inspiration. She had purposeful passion and acted upon it."

Next Up

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.

snow, plow

Snowy Saturday: Here's how much snow is forecast in Minnesota

Snow will reach the metro area by the early afternoon.

Cam Talbot

Wild improve to 4-1 with victory over Dubnyk, Sharks

The 4-1 win gives the Wild four victories in five games to start the season.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Daughter of MN Supreme Court Justice, Allina Health CEO found dead in Iowa

The 21-year-old was found dead in the parking lot of a sorority, according to police.

Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 8.42.40 PM

Federal charges: MN marijuana lobbyist threatened U.S. representative

"I want you to be as scared as possible," the voicemail allegedly says.

Related

One of the biggest champions of U of M women's sports has died at 94

Kathleen C. Ridder was a namesake of the women's hockey arena at the U of M.

Here's why some U of M students want to change the name of the student union

An exhibit takes a new look at the namesake of the U of M's student union

Celebrations, anger at U of M following Tracy Claeys' termination

The U of M's decision to fire Tracy Claeys has created strong emotions on both sides.

Celebrations, anger at U of M following Tracy Claeys' termination

The U of M's decision to fire Tracy Claeys has created strong emotions on both sides.

U of M suspends 4 Gophers wrestlers until January

The U of M confirms the wrestlers will be banned for "violations of team rules."

U of M suspends 4 Gophers wrestlers until January

The U of M confirms the wrestlers will be banned for "violations of team rules."

Prosecutors plan no drug charges against U of M wrestlers; police reveal details

U of M wrestling coach J Robinson has been on a paid leave since May.