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In Memoriam

Jennie W. Riker

August 27, 1941 – April 13, 2022

In Memoriam Jennie W. Riker

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Courtesy of Juan Riker

Jennie W. Riker

Jennie Riker passed suddenly in her apartment in Goleta, CA on the evening of April 13, 2022. Jennie lived an extraordinary life and touched countless people on her journey. She was born on August 27, 1941 in Upland, CA and delivered by the same doctor, her uncle, who would deliver her son less than 20 years later. The first years of her life were spent in Eagle Rock, CA, and her family eventually settled in Laguna Beach, CA, where she grew up and graduated from Laguna Beach High School. 

Jennie’s life was infused with a spirit and energy that is impossible to convey in words. She was a daughter, sister, wife, partner, mother, grandmother and friend. While these were perhaps her most cherished identities, any description of her life must contain the word “artist.” Jennie was an accomplished and prolific painter, and her works can be found in homes, offices and galleries throughout the US and beyond. She worked primarily in oils and acrylics and her subject matter was as diverse as the world itself. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and has hung in, among other places, the Providence, Rhode Island State House and several hotels in Miami’s South Beach. For years she was an exhibitor at Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts and later the Sawdust Festival. She also served on the Sawdust Festival Board of Directors for several years. Jennie’s art endures, and without a doubt makes the world a more beautiful place. It should also be noted that Jennie was a gifted writer and had the ability to infuse her words with the same magic that inhabits her paintings.

Jennie lived and traveled in Mexico for several years following high school and studied art at Mexico City College. At various points in her life she also lived in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Jennie had a way of connecting with people, and one of her great gifts was the ability to see the very best in others. One’s age, occupation or social status did not matter one bit to her, and the diversity – in all ways – of those she considered friends was incredible. 

In her later years, Jennie encountered numerous challenges and health issues that could have very well broken her spirit. Her ability to persevere and make the most of any situation was amazing and she did just that, through the premature losses of important people in her life including her husband, several partners and beloved brother, and through significant health, medical and other life issues. Through it all, she continued to love and laugh. She forgave easily and chose to continue to focus on seeing the good in people and the miracle/mystery of life. It should be noted that she did not do all this alone; she had help from Dire Straits, the Eagles, Rod Stewart, Dylan, the Stones and many others who were her constant companions throughout her life and especially in her later years.

Jennie was preceded in death by her husband Geoff, parents Donald and Josephine Williamson, and brother Doug. She is survived by her son Juan and daughter in law Jessica, grandsons Diego and Joaquin and cousin Carol. Additionally, she is survived by three stepchildren and many dear extended family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers or donations, Jennie would be most happy to know that her legacy of loving and kindness will endure. Please take the time to appreciate the wonder of life and beauty that is all around you, take the risk to love as fully as you can, and choose to see the best in people. There is no doubt that this is what she would want from all of us.   

There will be a celebration of Jennie’s life at Friendship Manor in Goleta, CA on Sunday, May 15 at 2 p.m.