Obituary – Tina Riner

Tina Riner, highly regarded interpreter for the deaf

By Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, May 28, 2010

DADE CITY — Tina Riner loved horses and sign language.

She was a highly regarded interpreter for the deaf who could sign with subtlety and contextual accuracy in different dialects and in sensitive situations, including legal and medical work.

When hospitals needed someone to communicate with a rape victim who was deaf, they called Riner. If a suspect police were interviewing in a criminal case was deaf, they called her, too.

Her affinity for horses dated back to infancy, when her mother ferried her around on horseback, starting at 9 months old. She owned a miniature horse, about 3 feet tall, all black except for his white forelegs. Socks pulled her in a buggy when she visited neighbors, or gave rides to children.

Ms. Riner died May 13, after falling from a horse. She was 38.

She was born and raised in Naples, and she found her twin loves early. She saw her first sign language interpreter in the fourth grade, and the other hook was set.

Ms. Riner went to Stetson University, then Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she became certified in sign language.

She moved to Lithia, then Dade City, and began contracting her work as a signer. She did it for 15 years, and it suited her.

“She was smart,” said her mother, Nadine Riner. “It was a reward to her and challenging at the same time.”

Ms. Riner traveled the state and beyond, helping the deaf communicate across a gamut of situations.

Sometimes the hospital called because a deaf person had been involved in an accident or was giving birth.

She signed at museum lectures and plays, for NASA in Cape Canaveral, even on cruises. She signed for politicians, including Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, when they passed through the Tampa Bay area. Once, she signed for a taping of Oprah.

“She had conceptual accuracy and the ability to do cultural translation,” said Jennifer Hess, an employment services specialist for Port Richey’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida. “She could translate an idiom from English into something maybe a deaf person could understand. She also did medical and legal interpreting. You have to have great skills to do that, because the liability is so high.”

She smoldered when she saw clients neglected by their parents or the school system. (Ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. But only 20 percent of those parents ever learn sign language, Hess said).

She answered the same questions about deaf people over and over. One of her pet peeves was that people found it so hard to believe deaf people can drive cars.

“Those are things you would think would be hidden by the dark ages,” said friend and fellow interpreter April Perry, 38. “But we see them every day.”

To symbolize her frustration, Ms. Riner sometimes wore a T-shirt that read: “I see dumb people.”

Away from work, Ms. Riner re-tiled and painted the home she bought five years ago. She was equally happy knocking down or painting walls; sanding furniture or curled up with a book; all dressed up for a trial or out in the yard with her big hat, pushing a lawn mower.

She was nearly finished with a remodeling and painting project, and she was looking forward to taking her interpreting business to the next level, whatever that might be.

At 9 p.m. May 7, she went horseback riding with a neighbor. John Olski said he and Ms. Riner had just entered a pasture behind his property when she told him to go ahead.

“She said, ‘I’ll be right with you,’ ” said Olski, 83.

When she didn’t catch up, Olski turned around and looked back. He saw the quarter horse she had been riding thundering toward him. He wondered why she was going so fast.

The quarter horse flew past him, reins flapping. No one was riding it.

Olski found Ms. Riner on the ground. She died six days later at Tampa General Hospital, a result of head injuries sustained in the fall, her family said.

Her family and friends are trying to reconcile the loss.

Said Perry: “Tina had accomplished everything life had to offer.”

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this story. Andrew Meacham can be reached at or . Copyright 2010 St. Petersburg Times

Better Choices

Baked pita chips, hummus, organic raisins, lemon pepper tuna…United Airlines to the rescue!

Seriously, I am sitting here on a plane munching away, so grateful that the airline serves a snack box called the “Right Bite.”

When I woke up this morning, I had a plan. I was going to swing by a center to drop off a car load of items, run by the UPS store to ship a package, drop the dog off at the kennel, pack for my trip, then pick up my husband from work. But somehow I got behind. Way behind.

Not only did I forget to bring apples and trail mix for the plane ride, I forgot to eat breakfast. And lunch. When I flopped down in my seat, I was sweating and breathless (we nearly missed the flight) and very hungry. I flipped through the food options and knew I would be able to get my body back in synch with the Right Bite instead of having to resort to “snacks” full of empty calories and sugar.

I’m glad big companies are becoming more sensitive to offering healthier food choices. I keep reading the debates about replacing sodas and candy in school vending machines with healthier alternatives. The other day I was doing some freelance editorial work for a large newspaper. The building included a cafeteria – mostly pizzas and burgers and fries, but I found a vegetarian station. And I noticed an announcement that they would be having a “sustainable foods” day, offering locally grown meats and produce.

I’m not sure if these actions are coming from consumer demand or a greater awareness on the company’s part (or both), but I’m thankful for the trend.Š

Ham and Swiss Muffulata on Wasa

Ingredients

¼ cup green olives, pitted
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 pieces peperocini, chopped
6 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
6 thin slices Guyere Swiss cheese
6 thin slices imported ham
6 pieces WASA Sourdough Rye Crispbread

Directions

Prepare muffuletta spread by mixing together in a small bowl green olives, Kalamata olives, olive oil, parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper, peperocini, and lemon juice.
Spread 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard on each crispbread followed by one slice of cheese and one slice of ham. Top with 1 tablespoon of muffuletta mixture.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 145
Total Fat 8 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 24 mg
Sodium 684 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 10 g
Calcium 10% of daily value

Baby Green Salad with Dates, Walnuts and Wasa

Ingredients

1 package (4 ounces) mixed baby salad greens
1 cup fresh dates, chopped
1 tablespoon oats
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 pieces Wasa Multi Grain Crispbread

Directions

Coat dates by rolling in oats to prevent sticking together. Set aside.
Place mixed greens in a salad bowl. Add walnuts, dates, canola oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Toss greens and serve as salad with crumbled Wasa Crispbread pieces or spoon onto individual whole crispbreads.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 255
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 86 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25 g
Dietary Fiber 5 g
Protein 6 g
Calcium 3% of daily value

On the Road

Had my first cup of coffee in a long time the other day (well, a month, which is long for me!). I was on an airplane heading to Los Angeles and there is nothing I like about planes. Can’t stand the smell, the sounds, the uncomfortable seats, the bathrooms. Can’t stand how my head feels when I read (dizzy) and how my body feels no matter how still I sit (woozy).

I wanted something pleasant. The coffee smelled good, and I figured a cup or two wouldn’t hurt (I mean, heck, those cups on the plane are so little). Well, the next day I had a massive headache. So much for my theory that it wouldn’t hurt – it hurt a lot. I think on the flight home I’ll opt for decaf.

Since arriving, I’ve been sipping non-caffeinated herbal teas like crazy – it’s cold and rainy. Anyway, one of the many things I love about California is the fresh produce. With year-round farmer’s markets and a city full of restaurants that serve up lots of organic fare, it’s great to be here again.

I visited my old book club group the other night where there was a delicious raw veggie salad from Wolfgang Puck’s. Been eating fruit medleys (yum – it’s been awhile since I’ve had fresh, flavorful fruit – wish I could share it with all of you braving the winter snow back east). Today I enjoyed an organic greens salad at my favorite lunch spot, Coral Tree Café (I also had a big, ol’ brownie there – not so healthy, but very tasty).

I do miss cooking though. I’ve really come to enjoy making homemade meals. My husband was shocked when he looked at our budget the other night and realized how much we’ve cut back on eating out at restaurants. Ends up I have a mini-fridge in the hotel out here. In the morning I’ll be off to the local grocer to cobble together some wholesome goodies I can make right in my room. Š

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