On November 14th, 2023, Phillip Bernard Ryder, beloved husband, brother, father, and grandfather passed away at age seventy-eight. Phillip was born at home in Kidderminster, England, to Gertrude and Harry Ryder and was the youngest of four children, with siblings Sheila, Norman, and Ken. During his childhood, Phillip attended St. George’s Infant and Junior Schools, Sladen Secondary School, and King Charles I Grammar School. He spent time in urban and rural Warwickshire and Worcestershire, particularly Eastham, where he developed a passion for nature, adventure, and art. Later, he went on to graduate from Manchester University with a BA in American Studies and earned his Teaching Credential in English and Drama from Madeley College/Keele University. Phillip taught English and drama at various high schools in the UK Midlands over a thirty-five year career, directing and curating Shakespeare and other important plays and exposing many young actors and audiences to substantial material. It was always his intent to make the arts and its benefits accessible to students from all backgrounds and to spread his love of theatre and literature to make the world a better, more fulfilling place. His students found him to be a warm, inspiring, and vibrant educator.
Phillip had an active transatlantic career in theatre as an actor, musician, and director. Throughout his twenties and thirties, he traveled across the UK and USA, acting and giving workshops in theatres, colleges, and schools including the UC Santa Barbara ACTER program, Los Angeles Music Center Education Department, and San Diego and Ventura County Schools bringing Shakespeare and Odysseus into the classroom. Notably, he performed as part of Sam Wanamaker’s touring variety show to raise funds for the New Globe Theatre in London, and during these years, toured with many famous names including Leonard Nimoy, Michael York, Beatrice Straight, Cleo Lane, and John Dankworth to name a few. He also worked with Tom Stoppard at the National Theatre. In the UK, he is remembered fondly for his role as Richard III, and for directing productions of The Tempest and Julius Caesar. He enjoyed performing in theatre productions until recently when he undertook key roles in Sacramento Theatre Company’s production of The Grapes of Wrath (Frank Galati’s adaptation of the novel by Steinbeck), Davis Shakespeare Festival’s Twelfth Night (Shakespeare), Freefall Stage’s Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), Sacramento Choral Society’s An Oxford Elegy (Vaughan Williams), and others, as well as giving workshops in voice acting and Renaissance dance. Adding to these acting roles, Phillip recently directed The Dutchess of Malfi at California Stage, and Under Milk Wood at the Thistledew Dessert Theatre as The Forgotten Theatre Company, Phillip and Yolla’s own company, whose mission it was to stage little-performed and woman-centered plays.
In addition to being passionate about theatre and the arts, Phillip was an avid nature and bird lover, and for much of his life, a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. He instilled in, and shared, a love for nature and folklore with his children. Phillip enjoyed cycling and running, especially in the countryside. He adored reading Emily Bronte, Tolkien, Keats and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and even wrote his own fictional short stories and a novel. A lifelong musician and singer, Phillip sung with a strong and lyrical tenor voice and played guitar, pipes, and tabor; he most enjoyed the music of Elgar, Beethoven, Neil Young, and The Chieftains. He was a forever West Bromwich Albion fan, and devoted Dodgers fan.
Phillip is survived by his wife, Yolla, children, Elizabeth, Amy, Phillip, and Christie, his nine grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and his siblings, Sheila and Ken, with their spouses and children, as well as his mother-in-law, Georgia, and her extended family.
"He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again." (Hamlet)
Please consider donating, in Phillip’s memory, to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, whose work was important to him and his family: https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/Donation2?df_id=63293&63293.donation=form1&mfc_pref=T
There will be a funeral service for Phillip at 11am on Monday, December 4th, 2023, at East Lawn Chapel, 4300 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento, 95819, followed by a reception at 1pm at The Fox and Goose Public House, 1001 R Street, Sacramento, 95811. Family and close friends are welcome to both events; please RSVP by 11/27 via text or phone call to 916-337-1012 if attending the reception, as a head count is needed for catering purposes.