Rick and Susie Rieser are underwriting Robin Wright’s 10:45 a.m. lecture Monday, August 12 in the Amphitheater in memory of their son, Nicholas, who passed away in 2017.
Nicholas began visiting Chautauqua as a young child.
“Our son came first as a grandson, then as a son, before he came as a father,” Susie Riser said. “So it was three generations, and he really liked it here.”
Rick Rieser said Nicholas had a special affinity for Chautauqua, and that it was always an important part of his life.
“We lost our son a couple of years ago and we wanted to do something to memorialize him. … He loved Chautauqua,” Rick Rieser said. “He came (back here) as a father with two little girls. So when he passed away, we were thinking about different things we might do to remember him, and I think that’s the inspiration for this particular gift.”
The couple first visited the Institution in the 1980s, and 16 years ago, they bought an open lot on the grounds to build their house. They are currently spending their 14th full summer at Chautauqua.
“We come regularly; we may have missed a summer or two, but we have come for many summers,” Rick Rieser said. “I really come here because of the community. I think it’s just a stimulating place to be.”
As members of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra League and frequent audience members of the Chautauqua Women’s Club events, the Riesers are very active in the Chautauqua community.
They both said that they thoroughly enjoy the programming at Chautauqua and that there is always something to do.
“We’ve had days where we did seven activities of various kinds, which is quite a lot,” Rick Rieser said. “We take advantage of all sorts of different programming.”
Susie Rieser said that being involved allows her to build long-lasting friendships and explore new things. Aside from regular programming at the Institution, she also enjoys baking and picking fresh fruit with her friends.
“I think that you form really good friends because you get to talk about ideas, sometimes you go to the same things, sometimes different (things),” she said. “I take a lot of classes.”
Rick Rieser said he believes in what Chautauqua represents, and that supporting a lecture in memory of his son was the perfect way to honor him.
“I support the programming here because I think that what Chautauqua is doing is really important,” he said.