YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - June Beverly Riss, an accomplished organist and a founder of St. Andrews Lutheran Church, died Oct. 31 at the home of her son, Paul H. Riss in White Plains. She was 84. A funeral service will take place on Friday in White Plains.
A recipient of a bachelor's degree in organ from Julliard School of Music, Riss and her husband were the founders of St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Yorktown Heights, where she served as the congregation's first organist. Riss, most recently of Dobbs Ferry, was born on May 30, 1927 to Herman and Emily Fiechtner in Meriden, Conn.
She met her husband Paul Riss in her hometown after his return from service in the occupation of Japan and they were married on Jun. 27, 1948. They lived in Gettysburg, Penn. while Paul completed his seminary training.
After his graduation, they moved to Yorktown Heights where they began their Lutheran church. Riss then moved to Greenwich Village in New York City and Mineola, N.Y. before settling in Dobbs Ferry.
Along the way, she regularly found employment as a church organist, including Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan, First Presbyterian Chirch in Mineola, United Methodist Church in Ardsley, N.Y., Second Reformed Church in Tarrytown and United Methodist Church in Pleasantville.
In 1969 she began working as a legal secretary in Manhattan, first for Jackson & Nash and then at Hall, McNicol, Hamilton, Clark & Murray. Riss would also give private piano lessons and her home would always ring with sound of music, spiritual and secular alike. Always encouraging her children to sing and play instruments, they remain avid amateur singers, songwriters and instrumentalists.
Riss is survived by her sons Timothy Riss, Paul H. Riss and Peter Riss, her sister Virginia Spintzyk and five grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband the Rev. Dr. Paul Riss on Jan. 1, 2003, her brother Rev. Robert Flechtner and her sisters Louise Dicksen and Arlene Gritz.
The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday at Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home in Dobbs Ferry. A funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in White Plains, followed by interment at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Meriden, Conn.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 430 North Street, White Plains, NY 10605, or Hicksville United Methodist Church, 130 West Old Country Road, Hicksville, NY 11801.
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