Hope Ryden, Wildlife Protector and Photographer, Dies at 87

In “Lily Pond: Four Years With a Family of Beavers” (1989), she described beavers’ sociable dam-building, kit-rearing and playful shoving matches, observed in Harriman State Park in Rockland County, N.Y.


Ms. Ryden wrote two dozen books on wildlife, including “America’s Last Wild Horses” (1970).

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“Like Japanese wrestlers, the contenders would square off, grip one another’s loose ruff with their black satiny hands, and then drive forward with all their might until the stronger one propelled the weaker backward into deep water,” Ms. Ryden wrote.

“Breast-to-breast, cheek-to-cheek, heads tilted skyward, eyes rolled upward so that only membranes showed,” she continued, “their resemblance to samurai warriors was uncanny, both in bodily shape and in the martial strategies they employed. They inflicted no wounds; theirs was a contest of strength, not an outlet for vengeance.”

Hope Elaine Ryden was born on Aug. 1, 1929, in St. Paul, Minn. Her father, E. E. Ryden, was a Lutheran minister who helped unify four denominations to form the Lutheran Church of America. Her mother, the former Agnes Johnson, was an organist and pianist.

In addition to her brother, she is survived by her husband, John Miller.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1951 from the University of Iowa, she was a fashion model in addition to her work as a flight attendant. In 1958, she was a crew member aboard Pan Am’s inaugural trans-Atlantic jet passenger flight.

Ms. Ryden spent more than 25 years as a writer, director and producer of documentary films, beginning with Drew Associates and also working for ABC News.

Among her first documentaries was “Jane” (1962), which profiled the actress Jane Fonda at 25 as she prepared for her starring role in “The Fun Couple” on Broadway. The show flopped, but the documentary, produced by Ms. Ryden and directed…

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