Robert Guy Ryder, 79, of Willington, beloved husband of Jeri Hepworth, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, February 6, 2014. Born July 22, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, Robert was the son of the late Guy and Helen (Grimes) Ryder. Besides his wife, he is survived by their children, Jonathan Hepworth Ryder and Katherine Hepworth Ryder, his son Steven Ryder and his wife Terry, his daughter Rebecca Ryder Bleecker, and their mother, Mary A. Ryder. He will also be greatly missed by his grandchildren Sarah Ryder Buberl and her husband Michael, Joseph Ryder, Jacob Ryder, Griffin Bleecker, and Corinne Bleecker, as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and dear friends from the area and around the country. Robert was predeceased by his sister Barbara, his granddaughter Gabriella Bleecker, and son-in-law Steven Bleecker.
Dr. Ryder received his degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1962. He joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut in 1974 following his time at the National Institutes of Mental Health where he served as Chief of the Marriage Research section. He continued his scholarship and commitment to the university and his profession in many ways: as Dean of the School of Family Studies, as Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy training program, and on several national associations and advisory boards, including his role as President of the Groves Conference for Marriage and Family and President of the board of Family Process. He was a well regarded therapist and mentor, and an admired teacher to hundreds of students. Robert was a member of the Board of Directors of Family Process Institute for 20 years and served as President from 1994-2001. Robert was committed to his community, where he served as a Justice of the Peace and the president of the Willington School Board, and was active in the Democratic Town Committee, as well as several local and regional organizations involved with mental health and social services.
Robert’s most important contributions were of course to his friends and family. He was an avid cyclist — when with groups, he always rode last, to be certain others were cared for. With family, with students and colleagues, and with a large circle of friends, Robert was known for his gifts for listening, for compassion, and as an unending source of love and humor. He will be immensely missed.
Friends gathered to join the family for visiting hours on Sunday, Feb 9th from 4-7 pm at the Tolland Memorial Funeral Home. A Memorial Service was held on Monday, Feb 10th at 4 pm at the Storrs Congregational Church. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Willington Scholarship Foundation or United Services of Connecticut.