Kathleen Ridder, supporter of U of M women's sports, passes away

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Kathleen C. Ridder gives the ceremonial puck drop at the first ever Gophers women's hockey game in 1997 at Mariucci Arena. Photo Courtesy: University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota is mourning the loss of a beloved philanthropist and supporter of women's sports.

Kathleen C. Ridder, the namesake of the women's hockey facility Ridder Arena, passed away this week at the age of 94.

She and her husband Robert Ridder donated to help create the nation's first women's-only collegiate hockey facility.

When the arena opened in 2002, Ridder dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Ridder was a gifted athlete who grew up before Title IX. She dedicated herself to volunteering on multiple women's athletic committees and was a champion of social change and equal rights.

Her giving spirit will live on through scholarships given to student-athletes.

She is survived by her four children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Laura Halldorson, Former Head Coach of Minnesota Women's Hockey

"Kathleen Ridder lived an incredible life, and she will be missed. She was someone who was passionate about providing women with opportunities, including opportunities in athletics. She put her passion into action through her advocacy, her tenacity, and her financial support. I’m thankful to have known this amazing woman and grateful for the impact she made on so many people, including me. Kathleen Ridder may be gone, but her legacy will live on."

Joel Maturi, Former Athletics Director at the University of Minnesota

"It is a sad day for Gopher Athletics with the loss of Kathleen Ridder. When I arrived in 2002 after the decision of the merger of the women and men, Kathleen made it clear to me that she did not favor the merger as she feared that such a move would impact the women negatively. She was knowledgeable of Title IX, a strong advocate for all women and she and her husband, Bob, were generous with their time and resources to promote women. Fortunately, it is because of her and others that the merger was completed successfully. We had many talks and she concluded that our women's program could continue to succeed in a new structure and continued to help to make it happen. Few people were as passionate as Kathleen. She was a role model for many, including me."