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

WASA Turkey Jack Sandwich

Ingredients

1 slice Wasa Multi Grain Crispbread
1 slice of turkey breast
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 fresh basil leaf

Directions

Layer each ingredient on the Wasa to create an open-faced sandwich. Break/cut into thirds.

Enjoy!

Wilted Spinach Salad with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Walnuts

Ingredients

1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
½ bag (4.5 ounces) fresh baby spinach
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pieces WASA Fiber Rye Crispbread (may substitute any WASA Variety)

Directions

Soak raisins in a small bowl with boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet. Add pine nuts, garlic and sauté until garlic turns yellow.
Add spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until spinach is slightly wilted. Add raisins and toss.
Serve on platter with WASA on side or crumble WASA crispbread into salad.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 250
Total Fat 18 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 253 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23 g
Dietary Fiber 16 g
Protein 7 g
Calcium 109

Halloween

I’m debating what to do about Halloween.

I loved dressing up and collecting candy as a kid. But as an adult – and someone with a growing awareness of our country’s health crisis – I don’t want to encourage the consumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings…you get the idea.

I could hand out boxes of raisins, but I hated that as a child.

I could hand out toothbrushes, but again, that’s no fun.

I could bake something – treats using crispy brown rice cereal and natural peanut butter – but I know homemade goods would get thrown out by vigilant parents.

I have a friend who has her kids put their loot in a pile before bed. During the night the Great Pumpkin comes and Poof! their candy is turned into little games and trinkets from the dollar store. I also know a dentist who gives money in exchange for the kids who turn in their candy.

Hmm.

I was reading a recent issue of Body & Soul magazine and saw a small article on fair trade. Most chocolate, the article said, is exported from the Ivory Coast where kids aren’t going to school because they’re working on cocoa farms to help with family income. Buying fair trade products ensures that the money goes directly to the farmers and their communities instead of all the middlemen. And it just so happens that you can buy individually wrapped pieces of fair trade dark chocolate (according to some studies, dark chocolate does have a few health benefits).

Click here for a link to the article and a list of the companies.

Skinny Female Dog

Have you read the book Skinny Female Dog yet? (That’s not the real title, but I don’t like to cuss on blogs.) I laughed my way through it with advice like “All carbs are not created equal. There are two types: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates suck and are as nutritionally beneficial as toilet paper.” The authors’ big tip throughout the book was to “use your head” when you make choices about eating. They are proponents of no meat and no dairy. I’m of the mindset that I need a little of those food groups for a well-balanced diet (my head says there’s something not quite right about a replacing meat and dairy with soymilk, soy “cheese,” soy “meat,” etc. – BUT that’s just me. The book has some great info in there and is worth the read.)

Moving on, the point I’m trying to make is that I visited the authors’ website the other day. Watch their Video Interview. I loved it. It took one of the author’s seven years to transform her eating habits. The other one – ten years. Their message is so clear and true: the goal is to eat well and do the best you can, but no one is perfect. It’s takes time to change your diet. Taste buds need to be retrained. Moving towards healthier foods is a progression. You give up what you can and don’t beat yourself up when you eat something less than ideal.  Š

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