Neria Hockaday Kohl Ryder

AUBURN – Neria was born in New York City to Gerald Samuel Kohl and Neria Irving Hockaday Kohl on June 27, 1927. As the only child of parents who met at Columbia, mother from the South and father from the North, her happy childhood included Friday night trips to Broadway to see the lights, learning to drive in Flushing Meadows at the age of 12 when the area was undeveloped and seeing the big bands of the 40s at Manhattan hotels. Every year they went to Centralia, Illinois to visit her beloved Mama Kohl and cousins Margery, Bill, Gordon, and Jean whom she loved as brothers and sisters. Attending Garden Country Day School in Jackson Heights, N.Y., she took ballet, played tennis, basketball and graduated as Valedictorian. Aunt Ela Hockaday, who raised her mother from the age of 12 and founder of The Hockaday School, gave her a graduation trip to Dallas to visit her uncles and Texas cousins.

Neria attended Wellesley College and majored in mathematics. Her passion for math, inherited from her parents, lives in all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her love for Wellesley influenced her daughter and granddaughter to attend. Cousin Gordon introduced her to his MIT Sigma Chi Fraternity brother James Ryder. They married on July 2, 1949. While Jim was at Harvard Law School, after being refused several jobs because she was married, Neria became a computer at MIT. She loved doing mathematical calculations with a slide-rule for physicists in the age before machine calculators.

Soon they had five children. Moving from Cambridge, Mass., to Jackson Heights, N.Y., to Chatham, N.J., Neria often said her happiest years were raising her children. She took all five children and two friends on trips to Gettysburg, Pa., one year, then to Williamsburg, Va. and Chincoteague Island, Va. another. She tried hard to participate in one activity with each child each year: Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Swim team, cooking, trips to the New York City ballet, to see Reggie Jackson. We remember how she made us run between exhibits at the 1964 New York World’s Fair so we could see them all. She took computer programming courses at Rutgers, leaving piles of IBM punch cards around the house. She took cooking lessons: French in Chatham and Chinese in Chinatown, N.Y.C. Summers were on Martha’s Vineyard, then Piseco, N.Y. in the Adirondack Mountains where they built a house and skied during winter school vacations. Neria loved a party and hosted many dinners. After little finger holes once showed up in a party dessert, she thereafter made one just for the children.

Neria moved to Tempe, Ariz., with her youngest child when the marriage was troubled. She became a realtor and practiced until her 80s. She took up knitting again and was truly creative with stitch patterns, colors and styles. She lived in Arizona for 40 years. She and Jim, who lived in Arizona, maintained a special friendship throughout the years, never speaking ill of one another.

Neria was a lifelong Unitarian. She was very active in Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, volunteering every week by folding Service notes. She had many fast friends of all ages through the church. In 2007 they held a special recognition service for her.

Neria traveled to see her family frequently. She was present for the birth of her first grandchild, then for many of the 11 born in all. Visiting her son in New Zealand several times including at 87, in Singapore at 82, she attended two weddings of her grandson in France at 86, and another in Ohio at 90. Only failing health kept her from the other out-of-state weddings of grandchildren.

Neria is survived by her five children Neria Douglass and husband Paul of Auburn ME, Duncan Ryder of Washington DC, Kristin Altieri and husband Phil of Mason OH, Evan Ryder and wife Rosanna Paterson of Onaero, New Zealand, and Malcolm Ryder of Tuscon AZ; 11 grandchildren Ryan Douglass and fiancée Anna Abajyan, Nathan Douglass and wife Anne Constance, Neria Lauren Douglass and husband Alvaro Garcia, Camilla Ryder, Evan Spanogians and wife Kaitlin Jacobi, David Spanogians and wife Alex, Hali Spanogians and husband Steven Owens, Duncan James Ryder, Eamon Ryder, Colin Ryder and Madeline Ryder; 7 great-grandchildren Augustin, Zélie and Maximilien Douglass, Ryder Garcia, Kora, Otto and Esme Spanogians.

In her final years the staff at Clover Manor became her friends. As the pandemic isolated her and so many others, her family want to especially thank them for their love and care: Savanna, Angela, Emily, Medina, Steve, Deb, Dr. Hattan and many others. Thank you for Hospice care from Margaret at Clover, and from Makalla, Ian and Sarah at Androscoggin Hospice House. Neria died on August 7, 2020. We are profoundly grateful that family were able to hold her hand and be with her in her last days.

Guest Book