Beloved Herbalist Mourned

April 30, 2004

FRIENDS throughout the world aremourning the death of Patricia Riley, whoalong with her husband Tommy Thomasowned the Ark Herb Farm in the hillsabove Heredia. She died in Bangalore,India, April 22 from complications causedby a damaged aorta.Riley, who was in her 50s, was on ayearlong sabbatical revisiting India withher husband, who she met in India in 1968,while they were in the Peace Corps.They had lived in the small mountaintown of Madikeri, Karnataka, in southernIndia, an area similar to the coffee-coveredhills of Santa Bárbara, Heredia, where theyplanted their renowned botanical garden.The Ark Herb Farm contains hundreds ofmedicinal plants from all over the world(TT, March 12).While in India, Riley and Thomaswere working on projects such as micro-hydroelectrical generation for two smallvillages without power, and helping plant amedicinal herb garden for a Tibetan healthcenter. They also opened their home tofamily and friends, who used the opportunityto explore India.“PAT was beloved and admired bymany,” said friend Francis Chavarria. “Herwork as an herbalist was important onmany levels; ecological, medicinal, and ina culinary context with the growing of ahuge assortment of wonderfully flavoredherbs. We belonged to the same book club,and her comments on many subjects werealways insightful, demonstrating not onlyknowledge in many areas but her generousspirit as well.”Reflecting Riley’s nomadic and multifacetedlifestyle, various memorial serviceswere held by friends and familyaround the world. Because she died inIndia, a cremation service in Bangaloreseemed appropriate and practical, accordingto her husband. Thomas said her asheswould be scattered on the holy riverCauvery.“IT is hoped that in the days andyears to come, all of you who knew herwill think of her and honor her by doingsomething, no matter how small, to keepmoving toward her Quaker dream thatwe, as citizens of Planet Earth, can alllearn to live together in peace and love,”her husband wrote in an e-mail fromIndia.

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