We lost an incredible friend, family member and Board Member a few days ago. But, it doesn’t seem to do him justice by referring to him as only those three things. Geoffrey Ryder was (and will continue to be) a bright light radiating love and encouragement and positivity into anywhere he occupied any space at all.
I first met Geoffrey outside of a nonprofit fundraiser about 7 or 8 years ago, though it seems that I’ve known him much longer than that. He and his buddies were hanging out outside – the cool kids. I was there briefly to get away from the crowd inside and maybe sneak a drag or two from someone’s cigarette. While I was alone in the corner, Geoffrey approached me and started up some conversation that I no longer remember. He asked me to join his crew and introduced me. He was so fully disarming, that it felt natural to follow his lead. It became such a fun and memorable evening from that point on. Geoffrey had a way of doing that with his infectious and perpetual good mood.
After that first encounter, I became one of Geoffrey’s “people”. A year or so after we met, I convinced him to join the Board of Well Aware. He was president of the Board a couple of times and was always on the Executive Committee. Having Geoffrey around for all of our important decisions seemed imperative. His actual Board term expired twice, but we couldn’t let him go.
His perspective and commitment to our mission and values were never in question. As a matter of fact, some of the biggest and best moves we have made as an organization can be attributed to Geoffrey’s encouragement and emotional support.
He made every situation a party (the good kind). Geoffrey is the reason we have Village events now. He’s the reason we have most of our Village members, for that matter. He’s also the reason we now do Rafiki trips, and he gets full credit for creating the lively and community-centered culture that is our Village Program today.
Everyone who knew Geoffrey is simply crushed by his loss. It doesn’t feel right or just. We all knew Geoffrey would be there for us – no matter what. He would push us to be the best versions of ourselves even when we didn’t believe his faith in us. He wanted everyone he loved (and there are so many of us) to succeed, regardless of any credit he might garner from it. He didn’t care about that. He just cared about us. He never left anyone out. He was so fiercely devoted to his tribe, and his tribe is everywhere.
In many ways, Geoffrey Ryder has made Well Aware what we are today. He sure did leave a mark on the world, a very broad and powerful imprint. Everyone who knew him is a better person because of it.
The team at Well Aware, as well as all of our friends and community members, deeply mourn the loss of this magnanimous, overly generous, and gentle man. But, we also commit to carrying his legacy of judgement-free affection and unbridled devotion to humanity forward through all that we do. We love you so deeply and fully, Geoffrey, and we are so grateful that we got to live in your unyielding love.