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Riddle, John Bob comment (1)

February 24, 2011


John Bob Riddle, former state convention president and Alabama Baptist pastor, died Feb. 12. He was 86.

“From my youth, I remember John Bob Riddle as a prince of preachers,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “He is one of the finest expository preachers I have known. This man stood tall in the pulpit.”

Two of Riddle’s pastors — Mike Shaw, Alabama Baptist State Convention president and pastor of First Baptist Church, Pelham, and Charles T. Carter, pastor emeritus of Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills — agreed.

And he “was the finest continuing student of the Greek New Testament of any active pastor I have ever known,” Carter added.

At his death, Riddle was the oldest living former convention president, Shaw noted. He served as president and in all the roles that go along with that position from 1968 to 1969.

Riddle, a Gadsden native, preached his first sermon in 1943 during his time as a student at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham and soon after, took his first pastorate at the former Trinity Chapel, a church plant of the former Ensley Baptist Church.

While a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., he served as pastor of a church in Indiana for about a year. During that time, Riddle also married his wife, Tommye. He graduated with a bachelor of divinity (now equivalent to a master of divinity) in 1949.

Riddle went on to serve as pastor of Brantley Baptist Church (1949–51) and Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Montgomery (1951–60). During his tenure, its membership grew from more than 150 to more than 3,000.

Riddle’s last pastorate was at Central Park Baptist Church, Birmingham, where he stayed for 20 years (1960–80). After retiring in 1980, Riddle served as an evangelist and guest teacher in Alabama churches.

He also served as a trustee for Mobile College (now the University of Mobile), which awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity, and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif. Riddle did extra studies at Princeton University in New Jersey and the former International Seminary in Zurich, Switzerland.

At the time of his death, he was a member of First, Pelham.

Riddle was preceded in death by his wife and daughter, Jo Beth. He is survived by two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. (TAB)

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Comment (1)

    Hal Bennett 12/17/2012 2:45 PM

    I heard Dr. John Bob Riddle speak in chapel at Howard College once while I was there 1960-64. He said, "If a man wants to preach like he's in in a straitjacket, fine. It's just not for ME." What a striking figure he was in the pulpit, with his light complexion and heavy head of black wavy hair above dark glasses and a pitch black suit.

    My father, Hal D. Bennett, Sr., was a much less animated preacher and had served in World War II as a chaplain in both Europe and Japan. He came back from a pastor's conference of some kind -- I guess this was also in the sixties -- where he had heard Dr. Riddle speak. My father was not pleased that John Bob had predicted, apparently in typical evangelistic fashion, that nuclear war was on the horizon.

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