Gladys Coffin Rikert, 88: Avid traveler, World War II cryptographer

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PORTLAND — Gladys Coffin Rikert, 88, died Aug. 31 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. 

Born in Clinton Corners, N.Y., on Nov. 26, 1920, she was the first child of Reuben and Iantha Coffin Rikert. 

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in New York, she was recruited by the U.S. Navy as a “top secret” cryptographer to break German and Japanese codes during World War II.

For 35 years, she was an occupational therapist in the Newark, N.J. school system.

She was a longtime member of the nonprofit service club, Altrusa International, initially as a member in New York City and later was active in the Altrusa of Portland club.

After she retired, she moved from New York City to Cape Elizabeth. She lived there for several years before moving to the independent living section of Seventy-Five State Street in Portland.

While living at Seventy-Five, she remained very active and served on the residents committee and started weekly contract bridge games. She entertained friends for lunch and hosted monthly “birthday pie” parties. 

An avid traveler, she made many trips to Europe, including several tours of Greece and also visited China. She enjoyed Elder Hostel excursions and classes.

Her family will remember her love of gatherings. She enjoyed hosting dinner parties for family and friends, especially when lively discussions were included. 

She will be missed by a large circle of friends.

She was predeceased by her sister Ruth Rikert Greenwood. 

Survivors include her sister Carolyn Harris of Anna Maria, Fla., and Cape Elizabeth, and her brother, Richard Rikert of New York City; eleven nieces and nephews; and great-nieces and great-nephews.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Arrangements are by Hobbs Funeral Home, South Portland.

Memorial donations may be made to The Susan Koman Breast Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 650309, Dallas, TX 75265.

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