The latest inductees into the Libby High School National Honor Society Distinguished Graduate Hall of Fame will be honored during a ceremony Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Libby Memorial Events Center.
Dina Riddle Jewell, Steve Riddle and R. Richard “Dick” Riddle grew up in Libby and all carried on a family tradition of performance, each in their own way.
“Everybody in my family was involved in music,” Dina said. “I thought everybody had to practice a half an hour on the piano before they went to school.”
Because of their involvement in music, and Dick’s work as a composer — though Dina said Dick considered himself just a writer, rather than a composer — any time there was a program, Dick wrote music for it.
“If you could get sheet music in Libby, Montana, you were lucky,” she said.
So, when music was needed for anything — from Memorial Day to pep rallies or prom — Dick would simply create it.
And with fewer distractions for entertainment, local performances that needed music happened all the time.
“Small towns probably get the most out of a person that there is,” she said. “Mainly because there’s not many of you there, and you’re expected to show up and do something.”
Dick was incredibly talented, Dina said.
“Dick was the major talent of our entire family,” she said.
She recalled a time he was back from college on Christmas break, and while reading The Western News, saw that he had been volunteered by Dina to write a song for the Christmas prom.
That was a Thursday, and the performance was on Saturday, and Dina had forgotten to tell Dick, she said.
“So, he went into his room, and two-or-three hours later came out, sat down at the piano and said, ‘OK, try this,’” she said.
Steve formed the The Mission Mountain Wood Band during his college years at the University of Montana, where he was majoring in English with a minor in theater.
His band went on to perform on 1,100 college campuses, towns halls, city auditoriums, and large outdoor music festivals, even sharing a stage with The Greatful Dead, The Band, The Allman Brothers and John Lennon at Watkin’s Glenn, south of Woodstock, New York.
Steve went on to perform on Broadway in several productions, as well as in the off-Broadway musical “Cowboy” which was composed by Dick, and based on the life of western artist Charles M. Russell.
Dick also is credited with guiding and managing Steve’s career with The Mission Mountain Wood Band as they recorded three full-length albums.
Dina said that the only thing that kept “Cowboy” from being on Broadway was an inopportune actors strike.
Steve would go on to write over 300 copyrighted songs, including The Montana Centennial Song”, “Old Missoula Town,” The Big Sky High School Marching Band Song “The Screaming Eagle,” and “Mountain Standard Time,” which is the favorite song of the Mission Mountain Wood Band.
Those were only a fraction of Dick’s songs that he wrote though, Dina said.
“Just, whenever anything came up, he wrote a song for it,” she said.
After serving in the U.S. Army as a Ranger in Korea, Dick wrote a show that included a song for each of various U.N nations, and toured Korea with it.
After his time in the Army, he joined a singing trio, “Three Young Men from Montana,” that signed with Columbia Records and appeared on several TV shows. Like his siblings, he also performed as an actor, taking on roles on stage and in television.
He went on to compose for the CBS Playhouse series, children’s musicals that were also featured on the NBS Hallmark Hall of Fame.
Dick’s last complete work was “The Rocky Mountain Symphony,” a four movement symphony that was commissioned by the University of Montana.
Dina said her family’s musical tradition influenced her, but she took a different direction in performance. She has worked in films, community theater, professional modeling, radio and television commercials and voice-over work in Idaho, California, Virginia and Taiwan.
She said she continues to do voice-over work.Community theater was a way for Dina to connect with new communities she moved to, and that in turn led to her work in radio and voice-overs.
“When you move into a new community, the fastest way to meet people and get involved in your community is to do theater,” she said.
Dina married fellow Libby High School graduate Thom Jewell, and they traveled and moved several times for his career, both around the United States and as far away as Taipei, Taiwan.
Through her involvement in community theater, Dina said that she received invitations to do voice work. And that led to her hosting radio shows, such as her 14 years hosting and producing the daily health segment “Fitness Facts” for the morning drive-time talk show, AM IDAHO.
“Theater is an easy way -- and an expedient way -- to meet people involved in the media,” she said.
Having experience in music also helped her in all the other forms of performance -- from voice work to acting -- she said.
“I think performance teaches performance,” Dina said.