Dcn. John Riedel, a decorated Vietnam veteran and beloved Queen of Peace fixture for more than four decades, died June 15. He was 75.
“He was really a special man. He took the time with people and loved everybody,” said his widow, Charlotte. “He taught me so much; I learned how to be a better person.”
The couple, married 49 years and two weeks, didn’t like each other when they first met. John came into town with her cousin to meet her earlier than expected, and Charlotte wouldn’t cancel a date she already had with someone else.
The tiff lasted all of two days.
“He had such a wonderful, loving personality. He loved everybody and always saw the good in people,” she said. “He lived for the Lord.”
Originally from Washington, Dcn. Riedel served in the United States Army from 1964 to 1973. He served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and attained the rank of Captain.
He received numerous military awards and decorations for his service and bravery that included the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star.
“He was the biggest angel on the earth,” said Socorro Leal who knew Dcn. Riedel for the past 17 years. “He would guide you not only as a clergy but as a family member. He touched so many hearts and he is very missed.”
Dcn. John Riedel
Born: July 5, 1940
Ordained: Nov. 9, 1991
Ministry in the Diocese of Phoenix
Queen of Peace Parish, Mesa, 1991–2016
Died: June 15, 2016
Donations can be made to Americare Hospice in Mesa
Condolences can be left at queenofheavencatholicmortuary.com
A convert, Dcn. Riedel embraced his faith with great zeal as a lay minister. He was instrumental in adult education at Queen of Peace, in addition to volunteering as an extraordinary minister, catechist in religious education and RCIA and coordinator of senior programs.
His friend of more than 40 years, Dcn. Richard Areyzaga, was at his ordination into the permanent diaconate 25 years ago.
“John helped me and was a wonderful friend. He was very spiritual, loved his family, always had a smile on his face and he loved what he was doing,” he said. “He will be missed.”
Dcn. Riedel is survived by his wife, sons William (Bill) and Michael (Mikey), six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A Rosary and public viewing was held at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Mesa, on June 28, followed by a Mass of Christian burial the following day.