Friday, June 19, 2015

Robert Riddick

Back around 2009, I was blessed to make the acquaintance of a wonderful fellow named Rob Riddick. Our mutual friend George Pantas introduced us, and from the moment Rob and I began talking on the phone regularly, we became good friends. He once told me he was convinced we were "brothers from different mothers."

Robert Riddick, Jr.
Rob was a great guy who shared his laughter and good cheer with me over the relatively few years I knew him through our many hour-long telephone conversations, many of them while he was sitting high atop his crane at the Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary's, GA. We shared the same love of music, TV and movies, NFL football, food, but most of all of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. We had the same childhood heroes - Blackjack Mulligan, Dick Murdoch, Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones, Wahoo McDaniel, and the Anderson Brothers.

He was able to start taking photographs at the matches in Norfolk and Hampton when he was a teenager, and through good fortune and a little help from some friends, was able to begin taking photographs for the wrestling magazines, particularly for George Napolitano.

Rob shot Crockett cards professionally from around 1984 through 1990. He mostly shot in Norfolk and Greensboro, but also at some big shows outside his geographic area, for example the Great American Bash at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, as well as the Crockett Cups in New Orleans and Baltimore. His photographs graced many of the pages and even a few of the covers of the Napolitano magazines.

Dusty Rhodes with Paul Ellering and the Road Warriors
Rob credited Napolitano and Tony Schiavone for helping him out and opening doors for him. Particularly Schiavone, who set him up nicely at the Greensboro shows and got him access.

Sadly, Rob Riddick passed away in December of 2013. He was 48 years old. He was way too young to leave us, and he and I had way too much wrestling left to talk about. I think about him often and miss him very much.

During my few brief years knowing Rob, he was kind enough to send me some of his photographs to post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Many of those are on Rob's pages at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives. But some have never been posted or seen, and I plan to begin posting a select number of those here for all of us to enjoy. In all cases, these will be pictures that Rob told me were some of his personal favorites. I post these to honor his memory. Look for them to begin soon.

When Rob died, a friend of his posted online that the world was a lot less funny place that day. I found that to be so true. Rob made me laugh every time I spoke with him, and that's one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. Thanks for that, Rob. Rest in peace, big man.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway