PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Hawk Athletics lost a great friend and supporter in Hawks Hall of Famer David Riddick, who passed away this weekend.
“We want to offer our heartfelt condolences to Dave’s family and his friends at this difficult time,” Athletic Director Keith Davidson said. “He was the kind of person you could count on to support whatever he believed in and he believed in the Hawks. I was very fortunate that he took an interest in me both personally and professionally. His passing was a big loss to our athletic family.”
Riddick was a staunch supporter of Hawk Athletics for five decades donating financially on a yearly basis, but also through his deeds and his time supporting various teams with his presence at events and games. He became a fixture at first the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and then the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournaments because of his love of basketball — a sport where he shined on the court as Hawk from 1957-61.
For the final three of those seasons, he shared the court — and room number 44 in Somerset Hall — with another Hawks Hall of Famer, Jesse T. Williams Sr.
“He was certainly one of my three best friends,” Williams said. “We had a very special relationship. I knew him for over 60 years. He was a dear, dear friend of mine and he was special.”
Williams had first crossed paths with Riddick in the mid 50’s in Philadelphia, where the two shared athletic prowess on schoolyard courts. The former was from South Philadelphia and the latter from North Philly. Although Williams said they didn’t “officially” meet until he joined Riddick on the then Maryland State College team they were certainly aware of one another much earlier.
Riddick’s parents owned a small store and the family was all known as great athletes. Williams said it would surprise many people to know that young David was a trained boxer as well as a basketball player.
“When Wilt Chamberlain was at Overbrook High School, Riddick was at Bok Technical High School and he made First Team All-Public Schools with Wilt,” Williams said.
The two had a productive three seasons in maroon and gray, and formed a bond that lasted to this day.
“He was a shooter and man he could shoot the ball,” Williams said. “I was his rebounder.”
Riddick was a two-time All-State honoree during his time in Princess Anne, as well as an All-CIAA honoree during his junior and senior years. He was inducted into the Hawks Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 1982.
He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and graduated with a degree in Industrial Arts education. He went on to become a teacher in the Philadelphia Public school system and played in notable basketball leagues in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.
All the while, he continued his rare friendship with Williams as they supported each other through life’s ups and downs while talking often.
“What I liked about Riddick was that he had a good heart,” Williams said. “If I could only say one thing about him that would be it. He really loved deeply and hard. If he loved you he loved you.”
That love extended to the institution that he felt had given him a lot and he wanted to give back.
While he was a great on the court, his biggest contributions to the university may have come well after his playing days. He was a member of the UMES National Alumni Association and was at various times an officer for the Philadelphia chapter. He hosted a yearly alumni social at The Penn Relays for many years and he established two endowments at the university.
Over the years, he has served a valuable historian — often sending in information gleaned from hours of searching library archives — and source of personal knowledge for Hawk Athletics. He also volunteered his time as a member of the Hawks Hall of Fame induction committee.
His continued willingness to give back never wavered and that didn’t surprise Williams.
“He was a loyalist,” Williams said. “He was loyal to his wife, his girls, his grandson, his other family and his friends.”
In 2018, he was awarded the Spirit of the Hawk award at Eastern Shore’s biannual Hall of Fame Banquet. The Sprit of the Hawks is for someone who donates their time, talent and treasure, someone who is a positive force and supports Hawk Athletics in deeds and words and is a constant presence at Hawk Athletic events.
Riddick is survived by his daughter, Karen Riddick of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his grandson, David Jordan who is a senior guard for Abington Friends High School in Philadelphia.
“His grandson was his heart,” Williams said. “He had two girls, but no boys so he really poured his life in his later years into his grandson.”