CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW 17
downtown Sharon Springs, showcase products made by local artisans; according to
Ridge, Beekman employs 42 people. Tourism is strong, which helps keep the American Hotel booked and pumps business
into the local economy. The D. Landreth
Seed Co., founded in 1784, relocated its
headquarters from Philadelphia to Sharon
Springs at the end of 2013. This past spring,
Ridge taught a course on entrepreneurship
at SUNY Cobleskill because he believes
local young people need to figure out ways
to make a living so they don’t have to move
to New York City.
“I don’t know another Main Street in
America where there has been such a turnaround,” Ridge said.
The doctor episode
Conquering made-for-TV challenges
is one thing. In real life, no step of Ridge’s
journey has been easy.
He was 11 when his father died of colon
cancer. Ridge still feels a connection. “He
worked a lot, like four jobs,” Ridge said. “I
think that’s definitely where I get my work
ethic, from him.”
Ridge was smart, driven, and he excelled
at whatever caught his voracious interests,
according to his sister, who teaches high
school biology in Asheboro, down the road
from their hometown. He was a typical
little brother, into everything, annoying, and
he was intelligent. In high school, Hazel-
wood said, he was Mr. Part of Everything,
always involved. “I don’t think he minded
shining,” she said with a laugh that rings
with affection and pride. Everybody knew
him; scroll through his Facebook page
(where nearly every day he posts some kind
of inspirational quote) and you will find a
lot of hometown friends.
His sister can see now in those childhood years the beginnings of some of his
appreciation for food, family and place.
After their father died, they spent a lot of
weekends at their grandparents’ homes.
Each set had gardens.
Ridge always knew he wanted to be a
doctor. He got into medical school on early
acceptance; the dilemma was which path to
choose. “I was so torn between plastic sur-
gery, forensic pathology and gerontology.”
While working his way through school
as a resident adviser, he won fellowships
and opportunities for more travel, such as
to study socialized medicine in England.
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