Remembering Rhoda Riddell

Two vews of Rhoda Riddell during her California days

October 28, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rhoda Riddell, founder of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. The Board of Directors of the Guild are pleased to dedicate the 2020 edition of The Guilded Pen anthology to the memory of Rhoda Riddell.

The story of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild is one of struggle and fortitude by a group of gutsy women who got started, and many who have continued the effort.

In the fall of 1978, our founder, Rhoda Riddell, returned to San Diego from the East Coast. She yearned to find a group of compatible souls who, like her friends in the Word Guild in New York, would share the joys and travails of a freelance writer’s life. She advertised for writers in The Reader and was inundated by people seeking work. A dozen or so accepted her invitation to meet as an informal support group.

That began the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. Nineteen years later, in January 1998, the Guild honored Rhoda Riddell with its Founders Award and acknowledged her impact through the granting of the Rhoda Riddell Builders Award to four others who helped get the Guild going: Betty Dodds, Betty Smith, Peggy Lipscomb-Kazwara, and Betty Jurus. Since then the Guild has continued to present Rhoda Riddell Builders Awards to members who have had a positive impact on the Guild.

Rhoda lived a full and interesting life. From Rhoda’s obituary in the Borego Sun.

Rhoda (Fulton) Riddell was born in Japan on October 28, 1920 to Robert and Karen Fulton, marking the start of an adventurous life.

Her parents left Japan after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and eventually settled in La Jolla. Rhoda graduated from La Jolla High in 1938 and then waited tables at her mother’s local restaurant “Fulton’s Green Dragon Inn.” She also did some modeling and briefly attending UC Berkeley and secretarial school.

Rhoda met an enlisted man in La Jolla and they went to Hawaii to be married – two weeks before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Rhoda told how she and her husband Robert were in bed when the Japanese attacked and how the Japanese were shooting at their get-away car.

When the couple later divorced, Rhoda decided to travel the world with her two daughters, Laurie and Cecily. Rhoda lived in nine countries and worked as a foreign war correspondent, had a radio show for armed forces, was a realtor in La Jolla and a travel writer and social director aboard a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

She loved to read and was a member of the Mensa Society and founding mother of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. Rhoda lived in Borrego Springs for about fifteen years and passed away after complications from a fall.

Rhoda was known for her wit, was cheerful, funny and authentic. Interestingly, she ended her stay on Friday the 13th [2015]. Mrs. Riddell lived in Borrego Springs for about fifteen years and had a remarkable life.

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