KEMPER HALL OF FAME

Dr. Ed Ridgley and Mrs. Martha Ridgley

Dr. Ed Ridgley attended Kemper Military School from 1960-66. His final year he had the distinction of being the Corps Commander. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and served 6½ years in the United States Army, primarily in infantry units. His service took him to Vietnam where he was an infantry platoon leader and company commander. His numerous military decorations include the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

Dr. Ridgley spent the next 24 years of his career as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In that capacity he served in many metropolitan areas on a variety of assignments to include counterintelligence and undercover operations. While stationed in Los Angeles he studied at the University of Southern California and was awarded a PhD from that institution. During his FBI service he was also detailed to the US Department of State’s Office of Counterintelligence for several years. After his retirement from federal service, he was teaching at the University of Texas, San Antonio, when he was selected to be Kemper’s 17th president, a challenge he accepted with energy and enthusiasm. Ridgley set about by restructuring the school and engaging Old Boys through the nation. His standing policy to personally welcome each visiting Old Boy endeared him to many alumni.

Dr. Ridgley spoke candidly and often of the difficulties which faced the school. He desperately struggled to untie the school from years of debt brought on by poor management and lack of meaningful board oversight. His measures to save the school were futile and Ridgley became the last President Kemper would ever have. However, his unwillingness to default, to act with anything less than honor, and to proffer nothing short of truth earned him the undying respect and admiration for his leadership in the school’s final years.

After Kemper closed, Ridgley rallied Kemper Old Boys, leading them in detailed strategy sessions to begin anew. It was Ridgley who inspired, encouraged, and motivated a team of dedicated Kemper Old Boys to form Echo Company, Kemper Military School, Inc. Ridgley has guided the young organization to see membership reach numbers never before heard of, even when the school was operating.

Dr. Ridgley’s determination and fierce competitive nature became infectious to those around him, who continued to believe, almost until the final hour, that divine providence might save the school they so loved. It became Ridgley’s difficult duty to mend and knit the wounds of Kemper’s closing, and where others would have faltered he again accepted the challenge and leads the Kemper Corps of Old Boys by his own example.

Martha Ridgley, the wife of Ed Ridgley, is the first lady of Echo Company. During her time as the First Lady of Kemper Military School she opened the Hitch House as never before to friends, families and Old Boys. Her calm guiding hand, Christian ethics, and genuine love of people endears her to those who know her.