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California Genealogy and History Archives


San Bernardino County


Ruby Louise (Nikki) Ryen

(aka Gam), 96, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed Oct. 17, 2011, in Yucaipa. Born April 20, 1915, in Sater, Mo., Nikki and her husband Gene celebrated 72 years of marriage just before Gene's passing in 2005.

Gam was an artist, with her crowning accomplishment the installation of her portrait of former Senator Everett Dirksen, in the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery. She and Gene had a ceramics business in the '50s, in Blue Jay. Nikki received a degree in art, while raising the last of four children. Along with painting, she was gifted in many different art mediums, including crafts, sculpture, sewing and candles. Her peanut brittle and "Gammy buns" were legendary. She also taught, for a time, at Lighthouse for the Blind. She was faithful support and travel companion to Gene during his many years working for Abundant Treasures.

She was a resident of San Bernardino, until moving to the mountains that Nikki and Gene loved, where they lived until shortly before Gene's passing in '05. Nikki lived in Yucaipa until her passing. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, exemplifying Christ's love.

Nikki loved her family dearly. She was preceded in death by husband, Gene, and their daughter Jan Brown, who passed in 1993. She is survived by daughters Sandy Norman and her husband Ray, of Big Bear Lake, Melinda Ryen of Seattle, Wash., and son Jerry Ryen and his wife, Annalee, of Redlands. Five grandchildren; Julie Hird, Chris Norman, Todd and Darin Brown and Jasmine Underland. Seven great-grandchildren; Alyssa, Claire and Alex Hird, Ryen and Andrew Norman and Kieren and Zoe Underland. Nikki was the last of five sisters to pass. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews. There will be a private, family service to celebrate her life.

"Big Bear Grizzly"  Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 5:00 am

Submitted by: Peggy Hooper