$1 million gift to fund Cassville scholarships

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cassville graduate, teacher leaves trust to school district

Students in the Cassville school district who aim to become teachers may soon benefit from the generosity of James Doyle “J.D.” Riddle, a 1942 Cassville graduate and agriculture teacher in southwest Missouri.


Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said in December, Riddle’s attorney contacted the district to inform officials that Riddle left a $1 million trust to Cassville, to be used for scholarships for Cassville students who go to a Missouri college or university for education and teach at a Missouri primary or secondary school.

Asbill announced the news to teachers in the district during a staff meeting on Jan. 30, getting emotional at times as he read portions of Riddle’s obituary and comments left on his obituary guestbook by former students.

“It’s a huge honor and a huge responsibility for us, and it allows us to collectively do a better job making sure kids in our district have a path to success that starts right here in Cassville,” he said. “J.D. was proud to be an educator, and he wanted to help our kids be successful, and that’s a powerful thing that we take very seriously. It’s up to our staff and the whole community to make the effort together, and we are honored and blessed to have this place to work and to make a difference.

“I’m honored to be part of the Cassville R-4 district. Great people work here, and they take care of our kids. This is an outstanding place to be.”

Asbill said the district and Riddle’s attorney are going through the process of implementing the trust, which could take anywhere from six months to a year. Once established, interest gained from the sum will be used for the scholarships, allowing them to be awarded annually in perpetuity, beginning in 2020. The structure of the scholarships has yet to be structured.

“Part of the trustees’ job is to ensure we do our part in managing the trust per Mr. Riddle’s wishes,” Asbill said. With the size of the fund, we will work with the trustees and form a scholarship committee to evaluate our options. The only stipulations right now are that the recipients are Cassville students, go into teaching at a Missouri college or university, and that they must teach full-time at a primary or secondary school in Missouri.”

The scholarships will add to a list of existing offerings by the district, managed by Cassville Community Foundation and Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Riddle was born on June 20, 1922, in Nevada, and he died on Sept. 20, 2018, at the age of 96. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII as an Infantry Unit Commander. He was awarded a Bronze Star from the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Following his time in the service, he returned home and attended college.

Riddle taught school in various places, including Bronaugh and Nevada. For a time, he also served as Deputy Sheriff for Vernon County. He resided in Bronaugh all of his adult life and was a member of Bronaugh Baptist Church.

Comments left in his guestbook at www.ferryfuneralhome.com spoke to Riddle’s influence on those he taught.

“Mr. Riddle was a very strong and good influence on the young men who took his agriculture classes,” said Tom Allen, 1957 Bronaugh High School graduate. “It no only prepared them for a life in agriculture, it prepared them for life. I will always remember my time with him as my teacher.”

Leonard Ernsbarger said Riddle was a great person who had a good impact on a lot of people.

“He helped to make society better,” Ernsbarger said. “I always enjoyed visiting and talking with him. Among the things he did is to serve as president of the Vernon County Youth Fair. I enjoyed working with him at that time and other times. He is now in peace. I am glad that I had an opportunity to know him and associate with him.”

Lyndon Irwin said he took Riddle’s class all four years of high school.

“He always set such a good example,” he said. “Later in life, we remained good friends.”

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