Rita & George Ryor
Rita & George Ryor, Historic Odessa volunteers, began their partnership in 1960 in Michigan. They arrived in Middletown, Delaware in 2005… via Dalgren Virginia, Bowie Maryland, Morristown, NJ, and finally Smithville. Rita was a Teacher/Librarian and George was a computer programmer…although he now is considered woodworker extraordinaire by everyone here at the Foundation!
Rita first became involved with the Historic Odessa Foundation in 2005 when the historic houses reopened after being closed in 2003 by their previous owner. Of course, docents were needed badly and Rita was not only looking for something to do but also an opportunity to put her training to good use. She became one of the Foundations first docents. It was a perfect fit! Rita always loved historic houses and history and with a new museum opening, there came a lot of new documents and collections which required an enormous amount record keeping. The foundation was in critical need of a librarian who would be comfortable working with their collections management program. Soon after her first interview Rita was hard at work entering hundreds of items in the inventory into the museums Past Perfect computer program…and has not come up for air since!
Historic Sites are always in need funding to support historic preservation efforts, interpretation, and educational programming for the general public, families, school children and their communities. The study of history is an important tool meant to be examined and learned from. History requires protection and its study can help to secure the future for generations yet to come. HOF made sharing its rich history through interactive and experiential programming for school children one of its first and top priorities. The fertile minds at HOF designed a school tour program that truly allows children to step into the history of this 18th century village. The program, which was launched in 2007, today serves an audience of over 3500 children from Delaware and the surrounding region on a yearly basis. It owes its success to the specially trained people like Rita, who for the most part are retired elementary teachers! Her training along with her dedication and commitment to giving back to her community spurred Rita to volunteer immediately as a school guide and docent. Rita dedicates several days a month to guiding school age children through the HOF program. She does this in addition to her duties as HOF Librarian and Assistant Registrar. Rita… like other HOF School Tour Volunteers… teaches children what 18th century life was like, how goods were traded, what chores and games they participated in, what it was like to cook for a family, what learning a trade was like, along with a myriad of other fascinating lessons. Rita’s husband George is also an active volunteer in the school program. He makes the wooden buttons for a twirling game for one of the workshops…thousands of them every year!! The kids keep the buttons as reminder and memento of their visit to 18th century Cantwell’s Bridge.
George’s other contributions include the large plaque recognizing HOF contributors which is located inside the front door of Cantwell’s Tavern. He has used his skill and talent whenever called upon without hesitation!
Historic Odessa Foundation is indeed fortunate that Rita and George are willing to give so freely of their time. It is only through the generosity of volunteers like them that Historic Odessa has been able to thrive. Thank you Rita and George…from the bottom of our hearts!