“Perhaps what excites me most is when I see educators and students subscribe, particularly when they hail from a country such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka and other countries in conflict or under severe rule,” she said in a 2012 interview. “It gives me hope — these students are our future.”
Kristen Fay Richards was born on Jan. 13, 1952, in New Paltz, N.Y., the daughter of Jay Turner, an itinerant folk musician, and Fay Richards, a commercial artist. Her father left home before she was born, and her mother traveled frequently, leaving Kristen in the care of her grandparents, who owned a dairy farm outside New Paltz.
Along with Mr. Yates, she is survived by her stepdaughter, Patricia Hill. She lived in Chestnut Ridge, in rural Rockland County, N.Y., and died in a nearby hospital.
Ms. Richards attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she studied acting. But she left after a year, drawn to New York by its vibrant theater scene of the early 1970s. For three years she managed the Gene Frankel Theater and Film Workshop in Greenwich Village, and in 1974 she was a founding member of the Impossible Ragtime Theater. She acted with the troupe and ran its public relations.
A summer trip to Greece became a nearly four-year European sojourn after Ms. Richards found work as a model; for a time she was the Greek equivalent of the Breck Girl, gracing shampoo ads in grocery circulars and on billboards. She planned to return through Rome, but fell in love with Italy and ended staying for three years, first working as a disc jockey and later teaching English.
After returning to New York in 1980, she opened an art gallery and founded a company that sold art and design products to corporate clients. Ms. Richards rode high on the 1980s Wall Street boom, but the 1987 stock market crash and the recession a few years later forced her into bankruptcy. She took a job running special projects for Interiors magazine, where her first undertaking was to oversee the renovation of Villa Aurelia, which the magazine sponsored.