SUMITON, Ala. (WIAT) — Teacher, pastor, bus driver, basketball coach. Whatever the task, it was never too much for Mark Ridgeway.
On Wednesday, classes at Mortimer Jordan High School were canceled after police reported Mark Ridgeway was performing standard checks on the bus before starting his morning route, but an unoccupied bus rolled and hit him.
The impact of his death is being felt among the Blue Devil community and across Sumiton, where Ridgeway was a senior paster and former teacher alongside his wife, Connie, at Sumiton Christian School
Earl Freeman is the Bible study teacher at Ridgeway’s church, Faith Worship Center.
“We’re going through a stressful time, a battle, but hey we know that all of this, God has it all under control,” Freeman said. “We’re soon to go rejoice with Brother Ridgeway.”
Amelia Hardin taught with the Ridgeways at Sumiton Christian School. She said the two of them taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades together in 1989.
“We at Sumiton Christian, we are heartbroken,” Hardin said. “My first reaction was disbelief. This is not happening.”
Hardin’s son, Eddie, was best childhood friends with the Ridgeway’s son, Nathan.
“I don’t know if it’s ever hit yet but it’s shocking because I’ve known him ever since I was a child,” Eddie said. “He would say bless you Mr. Hardin, and he would love on me like a son, like Nathan.”
Eddie said this is something he would miss most about Ridgeway – his love and being a father-like figure and mentor to him.
“It was a joy throughout my life getting to know him and knowing him and his family,” Eddie said.
Amelia said Ridgeway leaves behind a legacy of love.
“If he had to correct a student in any kind of form it was not because he was the mean teacher. He wanted them straight,” Amelia said. “I am praying that Connie has that comfort and she knows that he’s in the hands of God because he truly was a man of God.”
Mark and Connie Ridgeway are both teachers at Mortimer Jordan High School. The Hardins said they moved to Jefferson County Schools around 2007.
Freeman said Bible study was canceled at the church Wednesday night, but church leaders are hopeful to continue Sunday services this weekend.