Barbara A. Rykse, the longtime president and part owner of Setel Wallpaper & Paints, died June 12 in Greater Niagara General Hospital, Niagara Falls, Ont., after suffering a stroke in her Ridgeway, Ont., home seven days earlier. She was 60.
The former Barbara Becker was born and raised in Buffalo, and graduated from Cardinal O'Hara High School in 1968.
It was in 1969 that Mrs. Rykse began working for Setel, a wallcoverings and paint store on Hertel Avenue, after answering an advertisement on a whim.
The company was founded in 1900 by Philip Setel and originally located on William Street. It was later run by Setel's son Edward, who eventually sold the business to three employees who moved the business to Hertel in the 1950s. The business then became strictly wholesale.
"When they retired, we bought it," said Rykse, who worked in bookkeeping and sales. She and co-worker Russell Pirri bought the business in 1982, and returned the business to retail, as well as wholesale, specializing in designer wallpapers and fabrics. They also sold interior paints, according to a Buffalo News account of the business on May 30, 2009.
In the report, Mrs. Rykse blamed recession and declining consumer demand for wallpaper as two factors that led to the closing of the business last summer.
During her 27 years at the helm of the business, Mrs. Rykse was widely known for her expertise in helping customers choose the right wallcoverings for homes and businesses.
After her retirement, Mrs. Rykse spent more time with family and friends and also indulged her passions for gardening and baking.
Survivors include her husband of 35 years, Martinus; a son, Andy; her mother, Yvette Becker; and two brothers, Timothy Becker and Dean Becker.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 1 p.m. July 31 in St. George's Catholic Church, 56 Ridgeway Road, Crystal Beach, Ont.