Margaret B. Riedel
Margaret B. Riedel
  • September 21, 1922 - April 18, 2017
  • Tampa, Florida

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RIEDEL, Margaret B.

94, went to be with her Lord and Savior, whom she greatly loved, April 18, 2017. Margaret was born to Walter J. and Pauline M. Barngrover in Cedar Rapids, IA. She permanently moved to Tampa in 1960 with her husband, Harley, the founder and president of Li’l General Stores, a 250-plus chain of convenience stores headquartered in Tampa, and their three children, Heidi, Harley II (Ned to her), and Holly.

After her husband’s sudden death in 1966 of a heart attack, she raised the children and created a home and family-centered environment for them that lasted until her death. She was an excellent cook and baker and a gracious hostess. Anyone stopping by her house at mealtime would have a hard time leaving without joining her for lunch or dinner and being urged to take second and third helpings. She sewed clothes for herself and her daughters and granddaughters. She was a master gardener, raising many varieties of roses and other flowering plants.

During her 57 years in Tampa, she touched many thousands of lives with her ministry, her artwork, her books, her generosity, and her willingness to befriend all whom she met. She was a founding member of two churches, Christ Community Church (with her husband) and then in 1967 Bayside Community Church, which is celebrating its 50- year anniversary this year. She was principally responsible for bringing world-famous Bible scholars and theologians to speak at Bayside, including John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dave Breese, Norman Geisler, Merrill Unger, Stephen Olford, Walter Kaiser, Henry Morris Sr., and others too numerous to name. For each and every one of her years in Tampa, and for years before that in Cedar Rapids, she taught Bible classes for students and seekers of all ages. For many of these years, her classes were broadcast, thus reaching additional radio and television audiences.

She received a B.A. in Art and Art History from the University of Iowa, taught high school art and home economics courses before her marriage, and was an award-winning artist in both Iowa and Florida. Her paintings abound in vivid colors, have been featured in magazines, and hang in countless homes, offices, and public buildings throughout the world.

She also inherited from her father, a prominent Cedar Rapids attorney who was elected for three terms as Linn County, Iowa District Attorney and was called the ‘silver-tongued orator of eastern Iowa,’ a love for the beauty of the written and spoken word, and she astonished friends with her ability to quote many poems, including the Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in Old English, and of course, many Bible passages in the rich cadences of the King James Translation. She published three books, each illustrated with her own artwork. Her love of words also led to spirited competitions in word games such as Scrabble, Upwords, and Boggle, and many a weekend or holiday evening involved an after-dinner trip to the game table; or in the past dozen years or so to the computer where the she and other members of the family would ‘take on the world’ in online Big Boggle matches.

She was an accomplished tennis player, serving as the first woman teaching pro at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, and she learned, after a bout of tennis elbow in her right arm, to play equally well left-handed, so that when her right elbow healed, she could switch the racquet from hand to hand and hit forehand winners from either side.

She lived in the same house for more than fifty years, and she cherished the deep and lasting friendships she formed with the many neighbors she greeted on her long, three mile walks, with dogs in tow or perhaps doing the towing.

She is survived by her three children, Heidi (Jim), Harley II (Posey), and Holly; by three grandchildren, John Harley Matthews, Amy Van Valkenburg, and

Eryn Zeller (Philip); and by her sister and life-long best friend, Kathryn Brady (Jack) of Dallas, TX; as well as numerous nephews and nieces.

A memorial service will be held at Bayside Community Church, 3333 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 11 am. The family will receive visitors at 5031 San Miguel, Tampa, Friday, April 28, 2017, 5:30 pm-8 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the scholarship or general fund at Bayside Community Church.