Maria Weems Van Ryn

Maria Weems Van Ryn, June 20, 1980 – December 28, 2019 

Mother of Schuyler, daughter of Jack and Debbie, sister of Trina, Zannah, and Lenny (predeceased), granddaughter of Ray and Anna Ruth Weems (predeceased) and Simon (predeceased) and Trudy Van Ryn. 

Maria Weems Van Ryn, known to everyone as Ria, was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1980. After a quick move to O’Fallon, Illinois, she grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She attended Chesterfield Day School, Parkway Central Junior High School, and Parkway Central High School, where she excelled in academics, choir, and swimming. 

Ria returned to San Antonio to attend Trinity University, where she joined Sigma Theta Tau sorority and earned a bachelor’s degree with honors (Phi Beta Kappa) in English and Sociology. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Religious Studies from Vanderbilt University and a master’s and doctorate in Sociology from the University of North Carolina. While completing her dissertation on teenage Jewish identity, Ria also ran a nationally-recognized seminar for Jewish and Muslim middle schoolers focusing on shared cultural values. 

After completing her Ph.D., Ria fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams by moving to New York City for a tenure-track teaching position at Yeshiva University. While in NYC, Ria lived on the Upper West Side, was active at the synagogue B’nai Jeshurun, and explored her love of the arts by doing her best to see every piece of theater the city had to offer (Hamilton was a particular favorite). When not at the theater, Ria was often training: she completed 13 marathons in the U.S. and Canada. 

After three years of teaching in New York, Ria returned to St. Louis in 2014 to begin working on another lifelong dream: becoming a mother. Schuyler Jane Van Ryn was born on August 28, 2017. During this time, Ria also earned a master’s degree in Education at Maryville University, and began teaching English and Social Studies at Parkway South High School. A gifted and passionate teacher, she retained her position there long after her diagnosis of neuro-endocrine cancer in the summer of 2018. 

Ria’s magnificent spirit lives on through her daughter, Schuyler; and in the lives she has touched. 

Visitation Thursday, January 2 at 10:45 a.m. at Congregation B’nai Amoona, 324 S. Mason Road, followed by funeral service at 11:15 a.m. Interment at B’nai Amoona Cemetery, 930 North and South Road. Because Ria was an inspirational educator, she has requested contributions to Schuyler’s 529 account in lieu of flowers. Go to, passcode 762-G6J. Please visit for more information.