Katharine P. "Kittu" Riddle


Honored By

Honored by: Friends & Colleagues
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Katharine Parker Riddle, Ph.D., also known as Kittu, has been a source of guidance and inspiration to persons of all ages and circumstances, helping them to feel seen and heard and assisting them to identify small practical steps that they could take to nourish themselves and their families.

Kittu was born, raised and educated through high school in the Himalayan Mountains of northern India. After earning a B.A. from Park College near Kansas City, she married Charles Riddle and completed a M.Sc. in Nutrition at the University of Chicago. Her Ph.D. was a study of how living systems are nourished.

She and her husband and two children, Dorothy and William, went to China after W.W.II, and soon after arrival there, daughter Patricia was born. Feeling the need for help in learning the language, she invited her Chinese women neighbors to coach her. This soon became a support group, far in advance of consciousness-raising groups in the U.S.

In India, she worked with village women to improve the nutrition of their families. Later, through the Agricultural Missions, National Council of Churches USA, she worked in a broader context on addressing hunger in rural and urban communities with women in Africa and Asia. The fact that her interests were widening led to a divorce.

Concerned that women have a safe space where they could nourish themselves as well as each other, she moved to Tucson and founded Nourishing Space for Women in the Rincon Mountains. Nourishing Space, 150 acres of protected desert canyon, was operational from 1975 to 1978 and served over a thousand women. From 1977-1981, Kittu also served on the Tucson Women's Commission.

After Nourishing Space closed, Kittu worked for the University of Arizona's Community Health Program, teaching Nutrition and getting funding for a breast feeding program with women on what was then known as the Papago Reservation. In 1981 she was offered a position at the University of Nebraska which also included a part-time appointment in the International Program. There she created a project, Nebraska in the World, which linked the wives of graduate students from countries like Bhutan and Kenya with women in farming communities so that they could appreciate the commonalties of their lives. She continued that theme of helping women across geographic, age, and life style differences after moving to San Antonio by creating and distributing "Story Letters", a periodical of stories of the lives of women in over 50 countries. Over a period of six years, 24 issues of "Story Letters" were published and mailed out around the world.

Kittu has also served on the Board of the Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) which worked to make a difference in how old women, especially Lesbians, are viewed in the world. She has lived in partnership with Margot Kostenbader for 30 years. Her autobiography, "A Nourishing Life" is currently out of print.