Muriel Ann (Ryder) Streit was born Nov. 26, 1933 at her Aunt Mildred’s house in Greenport, and died on June 17, 2020, at the Veteran’s Home in San Diego, CA.
“Mert” was a proud Shelter Island native who spoke fondly of childhood summers spent roaming the woods, building forts and picking berries, going to Louis Beach, scalloping and fishing with her dad, or working as the only 12-year old female caddy at the 9-hole golf course. Winters meant sledding the hills at the golf course or skating on the freshwater ponds with clamp-on skates.
Mert’s father, Arnold Wilson Ryder, was one of 10 children born on the Island to Charles and Phoebe Ryder. Her mother, Edna Irene Sullivan, came to the Island in 1932 to recover from pneumonia and work at the New Prospect Hotel. Both Arnold and Irene had daughters from previous marriages, and Mert looked-up to her half-sisters, Janet Thrall and Clarissa (“Kissie”) Chaulk. Through the Great Depression, the 1938 hurricane and World War II, Arnold and Irene raised Mert in a series of rental houses on Shelter Island with electricity, but no indoor plumbing.
Mert graduated from Shelter Island High School in 1951 and left the Island to attend a residential nursing program at New Rochelle Hospital School. She was the winner of a $50 award for “Best All-Around Nurse” upon graduating with her nursing degree in 1954. After a brief stint at a children’s tuberculosis hospital in Westchester County, she joined the United States Air Force and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. It was at an Air Force base in Big Spring, Tex. that she gained the moniker she would be known by for the rest of her life — “Mickey”. It was also where she met James Streit, an Air Force pilot who she would marry in 1958.
Jim and Mickey moved to Southern California to join Jim’s family’s business and settled in San Diego. The couple raised four children there and in the small desert town of Borrego Springs. Mickey was a prominent and beloved member of that community and served two terms on the local School Board.
Mickey is survived by her four children — James (Santa Fe, N.M.), Patrick (Carson City, Nev.), Michael (Centennial, Colo.) and Jody (San Diego, Calif.), her stepdaughter Cyndy (Austin, Tex.), and seven grandchildren.
Aptly, and in tribute to a life that spanned across the country, her ashes will be scattered in the Pacific Ocean off Shelter Island in San Diego.