• Sat. May 15th, 2021


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Donald P. Ryder, Architect of Black Heritage Sites, Dies at 94

Donald Porter Ryder was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Springfield, Ohio. His mother, Emma Marie (Belsinger) Ryder, died when he was 10. His father, Earl Ryder, a chemist, then married Miriam Curtis, who raised Don and his two siblings in Dayton, Ohio.

After serving with the Army Air Forces from 1945 to 1947, Mr. Ryder enrolled in the University of Illinois as a chemistry major but soon found that chemistry wasn’t for him. “My father was always a talented artist and painter,” said his daughter Natalie Ryder Redcross, an associate professor at Iona College in New Rochelle, “so he figured he’d try architecture instead, and found his strength in drafting and design.”

He graduated in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

In 1957 he married Shauneille Gantt Perry in Chicago, where he was hired by the giant international firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and worked on the design of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

In addition to his three daughters, he is survived by his wife; his sister, Bernadine Ryder Matthews; and four grandchildren. His brother, Bob, died in 2007. Mr. Bond died in 2009 at 73.

In 1959, the couple moved to New York, where Mr. Ryder worked for several firms, including Marcel Breuer and Harrison & Abramovitz. He helped plan Lincoln Center and was director of campus planning for Borough of Manhattan Community College.

“The whole saga of Bond Ryder, I think, happened at just a particular right point in time, at the end of the ’60s,” Mr. Ryder told Professor Goldstein in 2019. “It was when the communities were demanding at least some kind of say as to who their consultants would be. And there we were, qualified consultants with an office.”