Cover photo for John Cottam Riding's Obituary
1939 John 2024

John Cottam Riding

January 20, 1939 — February 16, 2024


John Cottam Riding was the very essence of strength, faith, wisdom, meekness, and Iove unfeigned. On February 16, 2024, at age 85, he joined Naomi Meservy, his beloved wife of 62 years, in the eternities. A lifelong, active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he profoundly impacted thousands of people across the globe and left a legacy that will continue for generations. 

Born on January 20, 1939, in St. George, Utah to Edwin D and Kathleen Cottam Riding, he was raised in Pioche, Nevada, a hometown he dearly loved. Pioche instilled in John honesty, hard work, creativity, and fortitude. His early years shaped and deeply influenced his character and choices for the rest of his life and our family will always recall his love for starry Nevada skies, jack rabbits in sage brush valleys, and his escapades at Lincoln County High School where he played football and the trombone, drove the school bus, and served as student body president. This is also where his testimony of the gospel took root, nurtured by parents and leaders who saw the best in him.

Upon graduation he attended Dixie State College, and it was during this time that he met a dark- haired beauty: Naomi Meservy. He once commented that his favorite early memory of her was following her ponytail and poodle skirt to a dance on top of Dixie Rock “Sugarloaf.” Their romance flourished in those red rock hills. Naomi waited for him as he served a mission in the West Central States Mission from 1958-1961, and they married on July 22, 1961, in the St. George Temple shortly after his return. He served as student body president of Dixie State College before attending Brigham Young University for a bachelor’s degree, then University of California at Berkeley for his Masters in Business Administration.

His education positioned him well as he began his work at Pacific Bell, where he built a career on his well-earned reputation for keen ability, integrity, and kindness. It was during these early years that he and Naomi welcomed their children Gary, Carolynn, Teresa, and Cyndi as they followed his work in the company from Sacramento to Paradise and finally to New Jersey, where his son Michael was born. They then returned to California to the beautiful city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where they welcomed their children David and Nicole, before finally settling in the beautiful hills of Walnut Creek, California.

The years of young children turned into the years of raising teenagers, working in San Francisco, and serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as bishop and stake president. John had a unique ability to “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort”; he developed the ability to listen and counsel with love and compassion, which endeared him to his friends, neighbors, and those he ministered to.

In 1998, John retired from AirTouch, having worked in telecommunications and various iterations of the same company for over 45 years. John and Naomi sold their home, said goodbye to their beloved Walnut Creek, and moved to Mapleton, Utah, affectionately called “Mapletopia” for its beautiful surroundings, wonderful friends and neighbors, and the spirit of love John and Naomi cultivated in their home. 

Shortly after retiring to Utah, John and Naomi were called to serve as missionaries in North Carolina before then serving as Mission President in the Ghana, Accra Mission. As President Riding, John endeared himself to his missionaries and the people of Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. After returning home, John and Naomi were called to return to Ghana two years later as Temple President and Matron of the Accra, Ghana temple. Upon completing this sacred assignment, they were then called to serve in the Salt Lake Church History Mission, where they were, not surprisingly, assigned to document the history of the Church in Ghana. Both John and Naomi truly had a great love for the people of West Africa, and you will find children there now that are named after both of them. 

John loved God, family, and humankind and sought to lift and serve everyone who was privileged to know him. His greatest desire was to faithfully “endure to the end,” which he did, and that his family would “stay on the covenant path,” which he constantly encouraged us to do. 

John is survived by his seven children Gary (Melissa), Carolynn (Tim), Teresa (Layne), Cynthia (Steve), Michael (Sarah), David (Rebecca), Nicole (Danny); 31 Grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; and siblings Ron Riding, Ruth Pooler, and Alice Joy Heaton. He is preceded in death by his wife, Naomi Meservy Riding, his parents, younger brother Paul Riding, son-in-law Layne Williams, and beloved in-laws.

An evening viewing will be held on Sunday, February 18, 2024 from 6-8 pm at Wheeler Mortuary Mapleton, 82 West 400 North, Mapleton. 

Funeral services will be held on Monday, February 19th, at 11:00 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 825 Hawks Rest Drive, Mapleton, with a viewing held that morning at the church from 9:30-10:30 am prior to the services. 

Interment will be at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 22nd at Provo City Cemetery.

Condolences for the family may be expressed on this page.

For those unable to join us in person, you may view the Services via YouTube on Monday, February 19th beginning at 11:00 am at the following link:

To send flowers to the family in memory of John Cottam Riding, please visit our flower store.
Program J. Riding.pdf

John Riding(Audio).mp3

Service Schedule

Past Services

Evening Viewing

Sunday, February 18, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

Wheeler Mortuary - Mapleton

82 W 400 N, Mapleton, UT 84664

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Monday, February 19, 2024

9:30 - 10:30 am (Mountain time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, February 19, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Thursday, February 22, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Mountain time)

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