Royal Oaks’ William Rider explores the poet within

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The poet within Royal Oaks resident William Rider emerged in the middle of the night. In May 2013, Rider awoke at 3 a.m. filled with words. Making his way to his desk, he grabbed pen and paper and began to write. For three months, at roughly the same time each night, he’d venture to his desk and compose a poem until he completed Love and Live: God’s Words Written in Poetic Form—his first book of poetry.

“The words just began to flow,” said Rider, who crafted over 30 poems for the first book. More than four years later, Rider, now age 95, has penned more than 1,300 poems and published four books all powered by his two sources of inspiration – faith and love.

For years, Rider kept a nocturnal schedule, transcribing his thoughts in the early hours of the morning. This year, he’s transitioned to writing primarily during the day, and recently completed 100 Thoughts of Love, his fourth – and favorite – collection of work. Through faith and verse, and a stimulating environment, Rider has found a purpose in his retirement years.

“I also just put down what is in my heart. For me, it all comes from God, and I would cry tears of joy after every poem I like because I knew I had done something right,” he said.

“Mr. Rider has totally blossomed into a different person through writing,” says Khandice Morente, resident services coordinator at Bradbury Oaks—the community assisted living residence. Morente helped Rider to compile his poems, create a design for his cover and work with the online self-publishing site

“Through the poetry and writing, he’s really opened up in a different way,” she says. 

Rider chimes in that he’s just “having a lot of fun doing lots of different things.”

The St. Louis native, who has spent most of career in computer programming, has always kept himself busy. When he moved to Royal Oaks with his late wife more than 10 years ago, he served on the resident council and volunteered on various resident committees, including library and landscaping. But now he’s found a new avenue to express himself and that spirit to write poetry has yet to leave him.

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