Obituary of Richard Jonas

January 24, 2021

Richard R. Jonas, 67, passed away peacefully in New York City on January 24, 2021 following complications from bladder cancer.

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Richard was a 1972 graduate of Whitehall Yearling High School. He graduated from The Ohio State University where he majored in journalism and obtained the coveted role of editor of the university's Ohio State Lantern.

He was a gifted writer and had a long career in journalism and advertising. In Ohio, he worked in advertising for Gold Circle Stores and was a reporter for several local magazines and newspapers. He finished his career in Columbus as entertainment critic for The Columbus Citizen Journal.

Having moved to New York City, Richard was a copy writer for R.H. Macy and an advertising executive at the Tarlow Agency where he promoted a number of high profile cosmetic accounts. Leaving advertising, he pursued his life-long avocation of Iyengar yoga, becoming a talented student and teacher.

Richard became a "true" New Yorker, walking miles and miles each day. He knew the quickest routes down streets with the best architecture.

He had a fierce intelligence, keen critical eye and encyclopedic memory balanced with a wonderful wit and generous heart.

In his tastes, Richard was a paradox, equally loving "The Letters of Madame de Sevigny" as well as John Water's "Female Trouble", Eleanor Roosevelt and Cher.

Richard loved discourse and healthy debate EXCEPT when it came to three things that were perfect and not open to criticism: Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and Greta Garbo.

As a gay man living in New York during the 80's and 90's, he witnessed first-hand the devastation and loss brought on by AIDS. He marched with Act Up and volunteered at the Gay Men's Health Crisis. He was also instrumental in raising over $250K for pediatric AIDS cases in Europe and a founder of the non-profit support "Aiding Romania's Children".

Richard had no patience for stupidity or elitism and could spot a phony a mile away. He was a staunch Democrat and a strong defender of civil rights and equality. He had a wide circle of friends, each of whom will miss him dearly and count themselves fortunate for having known him.

Richard is survived by his sister, Barbara Martin and two brothers, Ted Jonas and Biff Blackmore as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Donations may be made to Richard's memory at:

c/o Richard Jonas HIV Scholarship Program
PO Box 1959
New York, NY 10156  

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Richard was a kind, generous teacher with a warm spirit that exuded gentleness and compassion. I will always cherish my memories of him.

Posted by: Gyda Braveman - NEW YORK, NY - January 26, 2021

RICHARD was the most extraordinary friend I have ever had. He was generous in every way but he had the gift of knowing exactly what one would need or be delighted by.

Posted by: Brooke myers - new york, NY - January 26, 2021

I count Richard a friend, as well as my teacher. Happy to say I have been in his classes for maybe 25 years. He will be greatly missed, as he was greatly loved.

Posted by: Richard Daniels - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

To my strong, generous, enlightened friend: knowing you has made me a better human being. I will remember your gentle voice, your fierce convictions, your knowing laugh and your love of children. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like you. We have lost one of the greats.

Posted by: David Harris - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

I can't seem to stop crying. Not fair that such a wonderful person should have to go. Not fair that we should lose him. Oh, Richard. We will never forget. Wish we had had more time. Love always, Lisa

Posted by: Lisa E Davis - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

we were kids in country club village we all went to school together and hung out baseball football we introduced him to his first girlfriend jolly we hung out out there house we all went are separate ways in high school but i would talk to him once in a while rest in piece my friend

Posted by: Bob Wade - col, OH - January 26, 2021

Richard was a friend I knew through the Iyengar Institute in NYC. He had helped me a few times to write articles on the topic of breathing. We were friends on Instagram and I feel so sad about his passing. He was so young!

Posted by: Dalia Zwick - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

I'm so sorry my beautiful friend is no longer with us. He was integral to so many of my high school adventures. Life was never dull with Richard. I will forever cherish those memories of a man whose kindness, generosity, wit, and integrity colored my world. I am better for knowing him. . He now flies with the angels. I miss knowing he's no longer among us. My sympathies to his family and friends.

Posted by: Barb Schwarz Bodart - Fredericktown, OH - January 26, 2021

I had the pleasure of being Richard's student at his Sunday morning yoga classes at Iyengar NYC. He was always offered some pearl of wisdom in every class and was so kind, gentle, and patient. I liked his sense of humor and how he reminded us to find joy and light in the practice of yoga, to not take things so seriously. Sometimes I would see him walking in the neighborhood and he always had a kind look on his face and a grace in his gait. He will be missed. Thank you, Richard, for your wonderful presence in our lives.

Posted by: Anya Marina - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

Richard, you were a dear and wonderful individual. I will always love you.

Posted by: Carey Dailey - Columbus, OH - January 28, 2021

Dearest Richard, you were a beacon everywhere you went. You are loved, appreciated, and will be missed.
Love and namaste, norma

Posted by: Norma Colon - New York, NY - January 26, 2021

I met Richard at the YMCA when he first began teaching yoga there. His humanity, grace, humor and caring were in abundance from the outset. Over the years I learned so much from him, and will miss him.

Posted by: Rob Gray - New York, NY - January 30, 2021

Richard Jonas, was one of the most sensitive, kindest,
responsive, Iyagny teacher

Posted by: Francine Tint - nyc, NY - February 23, 2021

Richard was curious. He was kind. He seemed to delight in the present moment. I think of him when reading B.K.S. Iyengar on Patanjali's treatise of the yogi. He advocates friendliness towards all, sympathy for suffering people, kindness to those who are not blessed with essential needs, and the cultivation of delight on seeing those who are better placed than oneself.'

Posted by: Nike Tirman - New York City, NY - February 24, 2021

I regularly took a class at the Institute in Brooklyn which coincided with a class that Richard taught in the studio next door. I never had a class with Richard, but there was something about his energy that struck me, even at a distance, even (literally) through the wall: a warmth, something so supportive and kind. I felt such regret when I learned he had passed not to have gotten closer to that glow. It was very palpablean emanation that just felt good to be near. I am sorry for those of you who knew him well and feel this loss very acutely and directly right now. I was very moved by the grace and courage in what he wrote to our NYC Iyengar community before he died.

Posted by: Nina Katchadourian - Brooklyn, NY - February 24, 2021

Richard, you taught me to experience yoga as not just a practice but a study. Thank you.

Posted by: Mark Wolz - New York, - February 25, 2021

I remember Richard as a kind person who taught from his heart.

Posted by: Sandy Lee - New york, NY - February 26, 2021

Richard has been my yoga teacher, mentor and friend for 21 years. He is an exemplary human being , so loving and graceful , discerning and curious. His wisdom and goodness permeated our classes, he was my friend. Thank you Richard , for all you've given me, and all of us.

Posted by: Cathy Finlay - New York, NY - February 27, 2021

Richard- I loved connecting to you and feeling your warmth, presence, and no-nonsense sensibility. I will miss you and treasure our memories together.

Posted by: Anna Hindell - New York, NY - February 27, 2021

I meant to express my condolences sooner than this moment but time has ceased to have sense of deadlines or even obligation with everything covid shifting reality to free- floating nebulousness.
Know that we share in the loss of Richard's presence spirit and light. Richard was an essential part of our practice - I recall his initial observational training and assistance for the HIV restorative class with James and Brooke back when the Institute was on 24th St. His lessons will live on in the Iyengar teachers that continue to instruct us online. The positive note during this time has been the wonderful introductions to many more of them. Love to all of his friends and family. colleagues and company.

Posted by: Peter Cramer - New YOrk, NY - February 26, 2021

I met Richard when I started taking yoga classes at the YMCA on Wednesday afternoons. I was so so stiff and unsure I could ever do yoga , Richard, encouraged me and always can up with ways that I could do a pose I thought I was never going to be able to do, like shoulder stand. He was the kindest and will be greatly missed. May he rest in Peace

Posted by: Venetta Mallory - New York, NY - February 27, 2021

Richard was one of my first teachers of Iyengar Yoga. I started to take classes at the McBurney YMCA in 2002. He will be missed.

Posted by: Alison Yi - New York, NY - February 27, 2021

Richard left us his precious gift of teaching yoga enveloped with his profound wisdom--a gift which has eternal impact on those who studied with him. His teaching has helped so many including myself to integrate our body, mind and spirit in his special way and make Iyengar yoga not just about poses but rather a way of living. He was a great role model of an ethical and spiritual life always kind, compassionate and caring. Richard was such a talented teacher, so passionate about what he taught and made this type of yoga accessible to so many despite the varied backgrounds and motivated us to participate. I so appreciate the he always took to time to give us personal attention to facilitate our learning. His inspiring work lives on through us, his students. He touched so many people with his calm and loving presence and so many people felt such deep love for him. May we always continue to remember him in love.

Posted by: Neal Kaunfer - Manhattan, NY - February 27, 2021

It's awful that Richard died. As everyone says, Richard hasn't really passed away, just returned to peace and happiness, and what he enjoyed most, books and yoga. We shouldn't cry, for that's not what Richard would like us to do, but instead whenever we think of him let's think of him with happiness.

We will especially remember his kindness and we can still feel him with our heart, for actions mark a permanent place in us.

I remember staying at his house when I was a child, and when he gave me the first two books of the Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers he loved so much. Once I read them, I understood why they were so important to him, and saw how unique they were. He also wrote a dedication where he put that Mary Poppins was his favorite book when he was little and remained so.

I will dearly miss Richard, but glad to have met him and will greatly honor and cherish all that he has given me in my life. So, thank you so much for everything Richard Jonas!

Posted by: Amalia Shapira - New York, NY - February 27, 2021

Richard was always a tall, gentle, friendly prescence in the busy, intense world of NYC and Iyengar yoga.
He was kind and generous. I"ll always remember this kindness. It stood out and it left a deep impression.

Posted by: Jen kagan - Brooklyn, NY - February 27, 2021

Richard and I were together at the Institute for Teachers Training. He was always cooperative and loving person. We met two to three times in Pune, India to attend yoga classes at RIMYI. His first question was about the wellbeing of my wife. Richard will be missed for years to come.


Posted by: Harshad Shah - North Bergen, NJ - February 27, 2021

Richard was so kind to my brother and my whole family loved him.

Posted by: Gail Purvis - New York, NY, NY - May 13, 2021

Having just found this site I am writing this over a year after you left us. Thank you, Richard, for the years of closeness we shared. I see from this site how very much you were and are loved and realize how very lucky I was to be close you. Love always, Purna

Posted by: Purna Rodman Conare - Jersey City, NJ - February 6, 2022