Joel Chester “Jay” Ridgway


Joel Chester “Jay” Ridgway, 88, of Cairo, died Wednesday, June 29, 2022, surrounded by his loving family.

Jay was born on April 24, 1934 in Bucklin, Missouri to Chester Ridgway and Ruby (Enberg) Ridgway. September 4, 1953 he married Ethelyn Mae Rifenberg who survives. Together, they had four children: Randy and wife Robyn of O’Fallon; Ricky and wife Kim of Moberly; Cheryl Applebury of Macon; and Rodney and wife, Nancy of Madison.

Jay leaves behind seven grandchildren. Ben Ridgway (Pam), Huntsville; Heather Alexander (Tell), Cairo; Aaron Ridgway (Nora), Madison; Nicole Fischer (Mike), O’Fallon, Derek Applebury (Dena), Macon; Brian Ridgway (Haley), Madison; and Jason Ridgway (Mandy), St. Louis. Jay also leaves his 15 great-grandchildren who loved him dearly. Also surviving are his sister, Mary Ann Brockman, Eldon, and sister-in-laws, Nola Ridgway, Moberly; Evelyn Hulen, Moberly; Lila Downing (David), Renick, as well as several nieces and nephews. Jay was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Howard Ridgway, sister-in-law, Dorothy Ravencraft and brother-in-laws, Willard Brockman, Gordon (Buddy) Rifenberg and C.F. Hulen.

Following graduation from Cairo High School, Jay joined the U.S. Navy Reservists stationed in Olathe, Kansas. It was during his time in the Reserves that he developed a love for airplanes. Jay rekindled his love for airplanes when he worked for many years at the Omar Bradley Airport in Moberly. Besides enjoying the work around airplanes, those who came in contact with him will fondly remember his friendly demeanor and love for people. Prior to his career with the airport, he held the position of regional manager for Empire Gas in Lebanon, Missouri.

In addition to Jay’s careers, he loved being with his family and taught his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren the love for fishing. He was also a hobby enthusiast making wood working crafts and more recently, metal toy tractors.

Jay was a member of the Cairo Masonic Lodge 486 and Eastern Star in Cairo. He was a very loyal and devoted 50-year member and held many offices including District Deputy Grand Master. He and Ethelyn were members of the Cairo Christian Church.

Jay leaves a legacy for his friendliness and love for people.  He touched the lives of people all around him and will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Cairo Masonic Lodge or to the Cairo Eastern Star.

Memorial Masonic services were held at the Cairo Christian Church with a visitation preceding the services.  Private Committal words, prayers and burial officiated by Pastor Janice Austin followed at the Memorial Park Cemetery.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Joel Chester “Jay”

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