Carleton Riker, Jr. – In Memoriam

July 17, 2009

November 26, 1919 – July 12, 2009

In 2007, AIANJ was prepared to present to those assembled at the annual AIA Convention, the Carleton Berrian Riker, Jr. we knew. The purpose was to gain emeritus status for Carl even though he was not a licensed architect. Our reasoning was that he given thousands of hours of his time to AIANJ and AIANewark and Suburban Architects in support of our members to promote a better public understanding of our profession. AIANJ believed those years of service were worth recognition on a national level.

At the time I wrote Carl that his leadership as a tireless worker for section and the chapter is what we all should strive for! We wanted to make sure that those assembled at the event became aware of Carl’s legacy as we saw it-a legacy that allowed 534 other long time associates from around the nation who because of Carl were now able to call themselves Associate Emeritus AIA members.

But as Paul Harvey use to state, “here is the rest of the story”:

Carl was born in 1919 in a not too little house located on a small rise above Scotland Road in South Orange, New Jersey. I know that after his elementary and high school education that he was already in the United States Army before President Roosevelt asked Congress for a Declaration of War on December 8, 1941. Many of us have seen the proud picture of a young Carl as part of the army’s 19th Engineers guarding the California coast from possible attack that day. His leadership skills were apparently noticed and it was off to Officers Candidate School at Ft. Benning, GA, followed by Tank Destroyer School at Camp Hood, TX, where as an instructor he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and then assigned to duty in England and France. He obtained the rank of Captain while in the reserves after returning stateside in 1945.

Louise Horn also from South Orange, though Carl did not know her at first caught his fancy as he flipped through the pages of the Columbia High School year book. A date was arranged and as they say the rest was history. As newlyweds, they went out to the wiles of suburbia in the late 1940’s building their little dream home, in Chatham Township. Over the years, with numerous additions, this little nest became the sprawling red ranch house that Carl affectionately called “this old house”.

Carl’s history as a support person in the architectural profession began with schooling in New York City and Newark where he honed his drafting skills, and then used them to work for some of the premier architects in the suburban Essex and Morris Counties. Names like Alfonso Alvarez, AIA, Emil Schmidlin, AIA, Paul Drake, AIA, Elmer Tuthill, AIA, Harvey Convery, AIA, Harry Weaver, AIA, Robert Hessberger, AIA, and retiring just two short years ago at age 87 from the office of Robert Heintz, AIA.

While his affiliations and memberships were many, the one we fondly remember is that for over 60 years he was with us in the AIA. Carl loved to retell his story on how he met the many architects of the AIA. It seems that in 1946 his first “boss” Mr. Alfonso Alvarez, AIA took him to a meeting and introduced him to a colleague, Harold Glucksman, FAIA and then Carl knew two architects. By the end of that evening he knew 25 Architects! Year after year, the list grew and we grew to appreciate his total involvement and commitment in our organization. Before AIANJ Design Days we had a three day convention and trade show in Atlantic City. It was there that the handbook was given to the members and every advertisement from the consultants, suppliers and contractors in these issues was obtained by Carl’s and Louise’s hard work.

Carl was the keeper of the history of the section and photographed everything and everyone except himself, well except once. We had created the Herman C. Litwack, FAIA Award to honor another tireless member Herman C. Litwack, FAIA. When it came time present that award for service to our organization to the very next recipient, Carl stood ready to take the picture. When his name was read and his family came out from behind, the surprise was complete and the picture of that always beaming smile made the evening for all of us present.

Carl passed away peacefully on July 12th in the home he had built with Louise who had predeceased him and that they both loved so much. By is side was his family, his son William and his wife Anna, his daughter Louise Riker Ferrara and her husband Gregory and grandchildren Taryn Ferrara, Joanna and William Riker, his sister Martha Riker Trundle and her husband James and many nieces and nephews.

Carl also leaves a legacy of church, community and professional involvement and members of the AIA. The Section and Chapter are making donations in Carl’s memory to the AIANJ Scholarship Foundation and members if they so choose can do the same or to a charity of their choice to honor this fine and gentle man.

William M. Brown, III, AIA
Robert Cozzarelli, AIA
Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA
Joseph Flock, AIA

Note: the writers are Past Presidents of AIA Newark and Suburban Architects

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to:

The AIA New Jersey Scholarship Foundation
c/o Robert Zaccone AIA
in Memory of Carleton Riker Jr.
212 White Avenue
Old Tappan, N.J. 07675
The Presbyterian Church of Chatham Twp.
240 Southern Blvd.
Chatham, NJ 07928
Chatham Twp. PBA Local 170
401 Southern Blvd.
Chatham, NJ 07928

A memorial service will be celebrated on Saturday, July 18 at 2 p.m. at the church shown above. Interment is private.

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2 responses to “Carleton Riker, Jr. – In Memoriam”

  1. Monday 30 November 2009

    I have just received your AIANJ “KNOWLEDGE OF COMMUNITIES ONLINE”. Months ago I called Carl, but at the wrong time, since Louise had recently passed away. I told CARL that I would get back to him, which I am almost sure, Carl was
    loaded with grief, so he did not hear me. My own life with its typical problems (Head aches) followed. My Grandmother once told me “Do not put off till tommorrow, what you can do today.” So there you go! I missed her grand advice, and now this night, I HURT SEVERELY!

    I first met a warm Carl at the fine Office of CONVERY AIA and CUEMAN FAIA, Summit, NJ. I was one year short of License, and CARL then celebrated his 50th. He was indead a fine and gentle, but also quiet man till you got to know him. Eventually my wife and I met with Carl and Louise at there home in Chatham Twp. CARL described how he planned his dream house at the exact minimum square footage/lot size/set back allowed in the Township. WE ALL KNOW THIS, DON’T WE, as an Architect (Architekton, Greek), not “developer”. Then, on course, his plan was to expand as his family needs required (Was this not F. L. W. advice?) Carl did it faithfully, and even much later, additon for Louise Mom and Pop. NOW I MUST BLOW MY AIA HORN. Why do we let Developers (Who are these people?), take up land for single family, and build TRACTS with houses 12,000 sq. ft., for three people? And why do all PLANNING BOARDS consist of people who are not Planners? WE KNOW, DON’T WE my fellows of AIA? Through me you have just had Carl’s “quiet statement”. I think we should offer the title FFAIA.

    After I left CONVERY AIA and CUEMAN FAIA, I worked for huge firm of EPPLE and SEAMAN AIA, Morristown, NJ, for more money, still an apprentice (Do we all not know apprenticing this well?) After a few months Carl Riker called me, to interview HARRY WEAVER in Madison, NJ. Since I lived with my four kids in Madison, and now A LICENSED Architect, AIA! It was the best possible lead any architect could have. HARRY WEAVER was the most human, best man I have ever known, and CARL SPOKE as draftman for Harry. I unfortunately I had to leave Harry, being his full time Architect, after three good years with Harry, because of an illness. Later, I started my “sole proprietor” firm we all dream of, on Madison Main Street (MY THANKS being to CARL RIKER).

    To me, CARL was a compass, to POINT the correct direction, for those who had the need. Carl, and Louise, were the best human beings who gave Lynn and me, the right track, in a profession 1966-1984, a time that then, was POLITICAL “testy”. TODAY? It rests with the “developers”.

    I thank Bill Brown, III, AIA
    and Robert Cozzarelli, AIA
    and Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA
    and Joseph Flock, AIA

    And personally Herman C. Litwack, FAIA

    BY THE WAY, WHO MAKES ANY AIA COMMENTS, TO ME, through my best friend CARL?

    Sincerely, what CARL RIKER said to me from 1968-1990 professional years, my “Grandfather”, he said, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” ‘TIS TRUE, but the pictures of CARL and me, are in my mind. If any, he took them.

    Dartmouth 1961, A. B.; University of Pennsylvania, 1964 MASTER-ARCH, 1966 Military service, Army Commendation Medal.

  2. Roberta says:

    Was very interested in reading all about Carleton Riker since my stepmother was good friends many years ago with Martha Riker Trundle. Rest in peace Mr. Riker.



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