Professor “Bill” Riddlesprigger

Story By: Laura Solis

William “Bill” Riddlesprigger, Jr., a long-time Fresno City College English instructor, died Feb. 6 due to Parkinson’s disease. He was 67.

Riddlesprigger retired in 2006 after teaching at FCC for 30 years. He was the first African-American male to be elected to the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees and a former president of the local NAACP chapter.

Dr. Ned Doffoney, a long-time colleague of Riddlesprigger and the former Fresno City College president, said Riddlesprigger was the type of instructor that made up the heart of FCC.

“He is going to be missed, not only by Fresno City College, but by the entire Central Valley,” Dr. Doffoney said.

Riddlesprigger was born July 14, 1942, in Little Rock, Ark. After his family relocated to Fresno, he attended Edison High School. He graduated in 1960 and enlisted in the United States Navy. He became a medic in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

He served in the military for five years and two months and was honorably discharged in 1966. He received the National Defense Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.

After his service in the U.S. military, Riddlesprigger attended Sacramento State where he received his Master of Arts degree in English. He taught at FCC from 1976-2006.

Dr. Jean Kennedy, an instructor of women’s studies, was proud to honor Mr. Riddlesprigger during the Afrikan Tent ceremony, at the campus’ African-American History Month celebrations.

“I am glad we got to recognize him in our ceremonies today, because I think he is one of our 21st Century heroes,” Dr. Kennedy said.

African-American studies instructor Kehinde Slowazi said he had the privilege of evaluating Riddlesprigger’s teaching and he heard excellent reports from his students.

Slowazi said Riddlesprigger had a way of touching students with his teaching.

“He was a great man and I have great respect for him,” Slowazi said.

Mr. Riddlesprigger is survived by his wife of 29 years, Paulette; his aunt, Mary Williams of Fresno; and his children, Gary Riddlesprigger, of Vallejo, Calif.; daughters Lynn Riddlesprigger of San Diego, Dawn Riddlesprigger of Fresno, and Maisha Riddlesprigger of Washington; four brothers, three sisters, three grandchildren, and numerous other family members.