November 4, 1920 – December 15, 2022
Mrs. Yvette Brown Ridley was born on November 4, 1920, in Portsmouth, Virginia as the eldest child to Dr. G. W. C. Brown (Founder of Norfolk State College (University) in Norfolk, Virginia) and Mrs. Elaine Hucles Brown.
She received her formal education and received of B.S. in Chemistry from Virginia Union University in 1941. She continued her education at Howard Institute (University) studying Chemistry of Powder and Explosives. Yvette then attended Hampton Institute and received a certificate for Engineering Fundamentals. She also enrolled at the University of Virginia to pursue her Ph.D. in Education.
Yvette met and married Isaac Ridley, Sr. in 1942, in Hampton, Virginia. They were married for 55 years until Isaac passed after a rewarding career as a college professor at Hampton University and Virginia State University. Yvette was an avid reader and lifelong learner. Together Yvette and Isaac were driven by their faith and worked tirelessly to improve their community, not only on the local level, but through their leadership roles in many state and national organizations. They also loved to travel and to spend time having fun with family and friends.
After graduating from Virginia Union University, Yvette started her career in the early 40’s at Langley Air Force Base (Hampton, Virginia), employed by NASA as a mathematician working on “wind draft and mathematical equations” for the then X15Jet which later became known as the F15 Jet. Her title was “Colored Computer”. Her husband was also employed at Langley Air Force Base as a Radar Instructor. While living in Hampton, she bore three children: Isaac Jr., Elaine and Helen. After leaving NASA in 1957, Yvette moved to Petersburg, Virginia, with her husband and young family to continue Isaac’s career as a college professor at Virginia State College. It was there that Yvette reinvented her career plans and pursued a new career in Social and Human Services. She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and obtained other higher education accomplishments while pursuing a career as a Clinical Psychologist at the Central State Mental Hospital. Motivated by the plight of a family friend that had been institutionalized, Yvette organized activities and functions at the facility and became a vital resource for the doctors and patients at the facility. She later began a long successful career at John Tyler Community College as a professor and retiring as the Program Director of Health and Services.
Yvette and her family were faithful and devoted members of Zion Baptist Church, Hampton, Virginia and Gillfield Baptist Church, Petersburg, Virginia. After her husband passed, Yvette moved to Jacksonville, Florida, to live close to her daughters, joining Bethel Baptist Institutional Church here she was a loyal member for almost 20 years.
During her life, she was active in numerous local, state and national boards of charities and outreach organizations. Yvette has been a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta for more than 65 years.
Yvette was a poll precinct director in Jacksonville for nearly 20 years and as a breast cancer survivor, she was a strong advocate supporting and participating yearly in Jacksonville’s annual “Walk for the Cure” cancer advocacy and fundraiser. In addition to working and raising a family Yvette was involved in the following organizations:
–AARP – Legacy Advocate for Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico
–ASALH – Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History – Chairman of the Board of Directors
–Delta Sigma Theta – Social Action Chairwoman and Voter Registration
–RSVP – Retired Senior Volunteers Program – Board Member and Tale Teller (read to 3 Kindergarten classes weekly)
–Mary Singleton Senior Center – volunteering to several activities including dancing with the Rockettes, swimming, workshops on current civic events and national legislation.
–Bethel Baptist Institutional Church – Health and Welfare Committee and Relay for Life Cancer Committee…(Yvette is also a breast cancer survivor)
–American Cancer Society – Chair of the cancer survivor committee
–Community Services Board – Chair of the Mental Health and Retardation and Substance Abuse programs and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors
–Southside Virginia Training Center – Volunteer Service Council member and served as Chairman
–Southside Area Mental Health Association – 2nd Vice President and active presenter for the “I Am Somebody” elementary school program
–Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist – Board Member and Chair of the By-Laws and Charter revision committee and on the screening committee to admit orphaned children
–American Red Cross – Vice President of the Human Resources for Greater Capitol Chapter (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover); served on the executive board, personnel committee and Strategic Planning Committee.
–Big Sisters of the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist – Big Sister
–NAACP – Life Member and Legislative Chair
–Democratic Party – Chair of Chesterfield, Virginia
–Civic and Progressive Action Association of Matoaka Magistrate District – Political Action Chair
-Gillfield Baptist Church – Asst. Superintendent of Sunday School and Sunday School Teacher
– Girl Scout Leader – Senior Troop Leader
– Chesterfield County Volunteer of the Year 1984 & 1985
–Virginia Easter Seal Society – President
-Virginia Foundation of Colored Women’s Club – Served on the State Board of Directors and President
-Southern Organization of Human Service Educators (SOHSE) – steering committee for 11 states
– American Red Cross – Awards and Recognition Committee and Black Community Advisory Committee
Yvette was preceded in death by her father, Dr. G. W. C. Brown, Sr. and her mother, Elaine Hucles Brown; brother, G. W. C. Brown, Jr.; sister, Ruth Blair; her beloved husband, Isaac Ridley, Sr.; son, Isaac Ridley, Jr.; and many other beloved family members.
Yvette leaves to cherish her many precious and loving memories: her children, Helen Beatty Ridley and Elaine Ridley Tisdale; six grandchildren: Kimani Ridley (Karen), Yvette Tisdale, Steven Beatty, Marque Greene (Danielle), Warren Greene and Marshall Greene; four great grandchildren: Gabrielle Seals, Xavier Beatty, Isaac Ridley and Xiani Beatty; nieces, Gwendolyn Milteer, Violet Clark and Laura Malbrey. Yvette was also loved and survived by several other dear nieces, nephews, cousins, beloved family members and sorrowing friends.
A memorial service will be held 11:00 A.M., Monday, January 16, 2023, at Gillfield Baptist Church, 209 Perry Street, Petersburg, VA, the Rev. Dr. George W.C. Lyons, Jr., Pastor, eulogist.
J.M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc., 102 South Avenue, Petersburg, VA, (804) 732-8911, watch the funeral services live online at www.jmwilkersonsince1874.com.