Paula Riker, 83, a woman of eclectic interests
By Rick Hill
Longtime Greenwich Village resident Paula Riker died Sept. 19 at her apartment at 10 Fifth Ave. at W. Eighth St following a gradual decline. She would have been 84 on Nov. 6.
She was known for her cheerfulness, humor, enthusiasm, love of justice and animals, passion for the opera, classical music and New York and Greenwich Village and her sense of adventure, whether in Manhattan or on trips to Europe.
Born Paula Marilyn Stone in Brockton, Mass., on Nov 6, 1923, the daughter of Ben and Ella Stone, she attended Brockton public schools before graduating from nearby Thayr Academy in Braintree. She received a B.A. in psychology from Boston University after stints at Pembroke/Brown University and the University of Michigan.
She moved from Boston to New York City in 1956 and lived at the Barbizon Hotel for Women and later shared an apartment nearby with a couple of young women her age before moving to Greenwich Village in the late 50s living on Gay St., then Perry St. She recalled living in the apartment that was the setting for the My Sister Eileen stories.
In 1960 she married John Riker at St. Thomas Church and they took a one-bedroom apartment at W. Eighth St. and Fifth Ave. He died in 1979.
She volunteered at many hospitals in New York City and for Congressmember Ted Weiss locally while her secretarial day jobs were often at ad agencies.
She was active at the Marble Collegiate Church, the Transcendental Meditation Center, The Pen and Brush Club, the Salmagundi Club, The National Arts Club, The National League of Pen Women, The Washington Square Outdoor Art Show and The Artists Fellowship League, among others.
She was an elector in the Natural Law Party started by Transcendental Meditation adherents in 1992, 1996 and 2000, and would have cast her vote in the Electoral College had physicist John Hagelin won in New York. She loved national elections, once campaigning for Jerry Brown.
Secular Jews, her grandparents came from Lithuania and Poland and were leaders in the Brockton shoe industry. Her father, Ben Stone, was presidentof Stone and Tarlow Shoe Company, which manufactured FootJoy golf shoes and elevator shoes.
Through her grandfathers part ownership of Brocktons cinemas, she saw free movies as a child, reflecting a lifelong love of films.
Her business card said Writer and she was particularly proud of her article published in The Daily News about fruit-sniffing beagles at airports. Other articles of hers were about Steinway piano-making, Ida Tarbell, Sacco and Vanzetti, Andre Gide, dogs and horses and veterinary medicine. She especially loved Kerry blue terriers and soft-coated Wheaten terriers, which shed had growing up and then while married.
While not a Marxist as such, throughout the 90s she attended many Marxist salons and dinners, including Abraham Lincoln Brigade-generation activists at the Ukrainian National Home Restaurant and homes, as much for the social as the intellectual side.
The colorful circle included Patterson, N.J., professor Ed Llewellyn, psychologist Barbara Berger, labor artist Charles Keller, activist Murray Kaufman, author Bernard Livingston (uncle of Chip and Ernie on TVs My Three Sons), China expert Sid Gluck (husband of Bel Kaufman, author of Up the Down Staircase), novelist Georgette Scott, Granny for Peace and former Assemblywoman Marie Runyon, dentist, hypnotist and psychology Ph.D. Aaron Moss and Corliss and Helen LaMont.
She published her light poetry about local dogs as Going to the Dogs and Other Species (Golden Quill Press) and took the Great Writers School correspondence course and studied writing with poet Lisa Grannel. In her 70s, she took the Science of Creative Intelligence course of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, including 33 video lectures, in Chelsea.
She loved to travel alone on trips she planned herself, including to Spain and Vermont or to see the dancing Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna or to Switzerland to visit the monastery home of Barrie the St. Bernard rescue dog.
Though reclusive in recent years, she remained enthusiastic and interested in the world. She loved Seinfeld reruns, 60 Minutes, Rex Reed reviews and Maureen Dowd.
She is survived by a sister, Norma, and nephew, Tom, of Pebble Beach, Cal., a daughter, Jacqui, a yoga teacher in Napa, Cal., granddaughters, a niece, Barbara, of Hingham, Mass., a nephew, Lawrence, of Philadelphia, along with other relatives and Rick Hill, her companion of 18 years.