Kathleen Ridder, who championed women in politics and athletics as a Republican activist and lifelong feminist, has died at age 94.
Born in October 1922, Kathleen Ridder lived a riches-to-rags-to-riches story. Her father, a stockbroker, lost everything in the Great Depression, and her mother supported the family working in a dress shop. Kathleen was in college when she met her future husband, Robert Ridder, whose family founded the Knight-Ridder media empire. In 1943, the couple moved to Minnesota, where her husband eventually became president and CEO of WCCO Radio and Television.
A devout Catholic as well as a Republican, Kathleen Ridder embraced progressive causes from civil rights to the anti-Vietnam War movement. She supported legalized abortion and gay rights, and marched in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment at the 1980 Republican National Convention, when it was dropped from the platform
Ridder eventually drifted away from politics, her son said, but she “never wavered on being a feminist.” She was widowed in 2000.
In addition to her son Rob, she is survived by children Kathleen Ridder Crampton, Peter and Christopher Ridder; six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.