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Gathering Celebrates Belle Ryder's Life

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Belle Ryder's friends and extended family gathered together on Friday at Ryder Farm in commemoration of the centenarian's life. She passed away on June 24.

Mrs. Ryder was born in 1910, one of 13 children. Her father was a school teacher. All of the girls in the family got to go to college. She attended Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, studied English and Education and graduated in 1933.

"In her early years she taught school," said her youngest son, Alan Ryder, "but that was only one of her various careers. She farmed, she worked as a waitress, and for years she was a social worker for Westchester County."

Betsey Ryder said Belle loved to can and preserve jam, jelly, pickles, crab apples, beans.

"She sold her products at Manhattan's Union Square Market. People are still asking for them," Betsey said.

Alan Ryder added, "She played Scrabble well into her 90s. And she loved to travel. She flew to California every year until she was 90. Before my mother went into assisted living, she lived at the farm in the original corn crib. We converted it into a guest house."

The farm's original house is still on the property. It was built by Mr. Ryder's great-great grandfather, Elizear, in 1795. He paid $900 for 129 acres and moved his family west from Danbury. The acreage is also intact though, due to inheritance over the centuries, ownership has divested into 223 shares. The only share that is not in the family is owned by the Bowne House Historical Society in Flushing, Queens.

"Besides everything else," Mr. Ryder added. "My mother was a big Mets fan. She went to her first game when she was 97. She used to be a Dodgers fan, but she switched when the Dodgers left Brooklyn."

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