Geraldine Ryner

Obituary of Geraldine Ryner

Geraldine lived a pioneering life overcoming periodic difficulty with an amazing positive attitude and a sense of style.  She grew up in Wood Acres in Bethesda, Maryland, where she was quite the tomboy, climbing trees and always exploring.  She remembered that her beloved neighborhood used to have bonfires at the local park.  She loved traveling in summers to Ocean City, NJ, with her family, and the boardwalk was the highlight for her.  In the early 1960s she was active with the Girl Scouts and on a scout trip to the backwoods of Minnesota she came face to face with a black bear at night.  She had gumption. 

She was married to John Ricketts for many years, appreciating and supporting his success as an accomplished classical bass musician.  John was a renowned virtuoso who played for the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and the National Symphony.  John and Jeri, as they were known when they were a couple, loved listening to classical music, while Jeri would drink her iced tea topped with lemon.  In addition to music, she loved fashion, always thumbing through fashion and style magazines, making sure she kept abreast of the latest fashion trends.  They were married for about twenty years and lived in the interesting Tenleytown area of Washington, D.C, renovating a brick duplex walkup with a detached garage before it was hip to renovate homes in that area.  Their home was a hub of activity, inviting to all the kids in the neighborhood, stocked with snacks, apples, and pizza, with the TV always on.  They raised latchkey kids, who prided themselves on knowing every nook and cranny of the city.   

Mid-way through her life, during the 1970s and 1980s, she operated a costume-formalwear rental shop named “Geraldine’s.”  Running a costume rental shop meant that October was an important month in her life.  She geared up months in advance for Halloween parties.  Her shop was known at the time as the go-to place for authentic costumes, as her costumes were theater-grade or authentic garments from the past.  Her costumes appeared in television, magazines, and local theater shows.  She loved sizing people up for a costume and getting to know each person before making a personal recommendation of a costume that would be just perfect for them and their occasion.  She was also ahead of her time after transitioning her costume shop into a rental formalwear shop, years ahead of the now-successful online dress rental business.  She supplied evening gowns and tuxedoes to the VIPs of Washington, those attending balls, galas, and Kennedy Center Honors.  Her two sons practically grew up in the store.  She was a real entrepreneur always thinking about how businesses could improve or grow. 

Geraldine was also a true self-help guru and loved reading books about positive thinking and how to improve yourself, which helped her cope with anxiety and see the bright side of life.  Oftentimes, she would do her reading and thinking at coffeehouses, which always energized her, often writing in her personally designed notebooks.  Again, she was ahead of her time as it is now widely encouraged to do journaling, idea boarding, and mental mapping.  In her later years, she would read through scores of self-help books and even the latest books on business trends.  The last book she read was The Start-Up of You

One of her last big adventures, and a highlight of her life, was visiting Alaska in 2001 where she floated down the whitewater rapids of the Nenana River in a raft white-knuckled the whole way (which earned her the nickname “Death Grip” by the guide).  On the same trip she flew in a small plane around the Mountain Denali and took a scenic cruise on Kenai Fjords National Park with whales breaching the water.   But, to her, the highlight was seeing her son, Ben, working the microphone as the official guide on the Alaska Railroad in the dome car.  No one captivated the audience quite like her son.

Geraldine lives on in her sons, Ben and Tom, and her three grandkids, Keira, Gabby, and Bella.  She was proud that each son picked up one of her passions.  She always loved the National Parks and was fond of driving to Shenandoah National Park with her family and her Persian friends she met in Tenleytown.  Ben picked up her love for nature and parks.  Tom picked up her passion for entrepreneurship.  She will be warmly remembered and never forgotten.  When you have that much style, you stand out in the crowd.    

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