TUCSON, AZ — In the days of pencil and paper journalism, reporters would write “-30-“ to indicate the end of a news story.
On April 24, 2019, George William Ridge, Jr., 86, a journalist, lawyer, university professor and award-winning travel, food, news and sports reporter, wrote -30- to a life well-lived.
Ridge was born in Alexandria, LA, on March 26, 1933. Growing up in El Paso, TX, he remembered the way the sky looked the day the first atomic bomb was tested at White Sands Missile Range. His family later moved to Phoenix, AZ, where he graduated from Arizona State University.
First and foremost a journalist, Ridge began his writing career as a cub reporter in The Arizona Republic Sports Department, where his report on the 1954 Michigan State-UCLA Rose Bowl game was recognized by the Arizona Press Association as sports story of the year. Ridge was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War and served as a Stars and Stripes military newspaper reporter in Germany. While serving, he covered historic events such as the construction of the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Ridge went on to write for the Arizona Daily Star, Denver Post and International Herald Tribune in Paris.
After earning a law degree at the University of Arizona, Ridge was an Arizona Assistant Attorney General before combining his interests and becoming a journalism professor at the University of Arizona in 1968, specializing in the law and ethics of journalism. During his 36 years of teaching, he was the only two-time director of the Journalism Department, established a photojournalism program, expanded journalism programs for minorities, and organized two student-run newspapers, El Independiente, serving South Tucson, and the local edition of the Tombstone Epitaph.
Ridge also helped train senior US Army officers on how to work with the media, particularly in war zones. He supported more than 200 military exercises over 23 years, and generals soon learned that they could not just walk out of a news conference when Ridge was asking questions
Throughout his life, Ridge never stopped traveling and he shared that love in “Pack Up Your Troubles”, his weekly travel column for the Arizona Daily Star. More recently, he wrote a travel blog for his website, HoboShoes.net. For many years, he and his wife, Earlene, also co-wrote a popular restaurant review column for the Star.
More than anything, Ridge enjoyed his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. With family living all over the world, Ridge often joked that the sun never set on his empire and his children knew that after any relocation, from Italy to Okinawa, Ridge soon would be walking in the door to help unpack and hang pictures.
He is survived by his wife of almost 65 years, Earlene; children, Deborah Whitaker (O. R.), Carole Hale (David), Jim Ridge (Rebecca), and Ellen Brown (Todd); nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.