With extraordinary luck, FR came across Raniere’s prison recollections of mom and dad and growing up as a genius.
By Keith Raniere
I was born in Brooklyn on August 26, 1960. My father, James Raniere, was a successful advertising executive who often traveled and was away from home.
My mother, Vera Oschypko, was a beautiful, graceful woman who was a professional ballroom dancer and dance instructor.
My father died in the Spring of 2020. Unfortunately, because of my false incarceration, I was unable to speak to my father, and I was unable to acknowledge his illness or passing.
My dad and I.
I was an only child. From early childhood, I demonstrated some gifts nurtured by my parents and mentors.
I spoke in complete sentences by the age of one. I was able to read by the age of two.
Still, as I was growing up, my small family did not have much money or material possessions.
When I was six years old, my family moved from Brooklyn to Suffern, New York, in Rockland County. It was then that I observed my parents arguing a lot.
Rockland County Journal-News
Nyack, New York
Friday, March 15, 1968
It was apparent to me that my frail family was about to fracture. Like many young children facing the prospect of divorced parents, I thought deeply about whether there was anything I could do to stop my parents from arguing and prevent my family from ending.
Without brothers, sisters, or a close extended family, the notion that my three-member family would cease to exist caused me unrelenting sadness.
About two years after moving, when I was about eight years old, my parents separated and later divorced.
After my father left home, I typically saw him a few times a week. He took me to martial arts lessons and was as present in my life as possible.
My father made efforts to remain in my life despite the divorce. But, even at ten years of age, I saw my mother, who suffered from severe heart disease, would be the primary source of support, comfort, and love.
An autodidact, I directed my learning abilities to the subject of learning itself, studying the science and art of learning to find optimized learning strategies and methodologies.
I applied this skill to athletics. At age eleven, I excelled in judo and was an East Coast Judo Champion.
I also excelled in numerous other sports, including volleyball, tennis, table tennis, diving, softball, cycling, and skiing. By the age of twelve, I taught myself to play piano at the concert level.
My passion and aptitude for music would inspire me to master many other musical instruments.
I taught myself high school mathematics in nineteen hours at 12.
But it was hard as a boy, caring for my mother, knowing I might soon lose her all the while.
I wanted to be a hero, because a hero would save his mother and somehow transcend the self-evident reality around him and change it for the better.
I know that people who turn out to be heroes do not see their lives as great or special amid the struggle, but only see this much later.
Because of the difficult circumstances I was in, I realized at a young age I could mindfully and intentfully choose to be a good, caring, considerate person at each moment for the rest of my life, regardless of the hardships.
I realized at 12 years old that the desire and ability to change reality for the better – in a sense, being a hero – was a matter of character, choices, and practice.
By developing and exhibiting this character, I could stand up to the reality that was pressing in on me. I started this discipline by committing myself to not harming animals or eating meat and avoiding being materialistic.
When I was 13, my mother’s heart condition grew worse. She had open-heart surgery. In a sense, neither my mother nor I recovered from her surgery.
I confronted a reality where my mother could die at any moment, leaving me alone in the world.
That same year, I taught myself three years of college mathematics and became a professional computer programmer.
For almost five years, I spent much time caring for my mother. I ensured she kept her medical appointments and urged her to take care of herself.
But, I could see my mother was not taking care of herself. She was drinking heavily and slowly giving in to the loneliness and sorrow she was evidently feeling all the time. But, I stuck by her faithfully.
During my High School years, except for going to school, I spent a lot of time at home.
I did not pursue friendships. I did not travel often. I did not have many carefree pleasures some children find in childhood. Instead, I was devoted to my sad, lonely mother, whom I knew was dying.
Watching my mother, once a graceful dancer, experiencing such sorrow had a profound impact on me.
Despite my difficult circumstances at home, I excelled academically in High School. I completed ninth grade at Suffern High School, transferred to the Rockland County Day School for tenth and eleventh grades, but left High School a year early.
The Headmaster of Rockland County Day Schools said I was a “brilliant student of mathematics and science”.
He said I was “probably as well prepared for college academically, socially and emotionally” as any of the high school seniors.” The letter goes on to say I had “outgrown all the school’s learnings in math and science.”
At the age of 17, and having misgivings over leaving my mother, I started at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (“RPI”) in Troy, New York, in August 1977. From my first semester onward, I began taking Ph.D. level mathematics courses, ultimately taking most graduate-level physics and mathematics courses available at the time.
I returned home the following summer.
I was to return to RPI for my sophomore year on Sunday, August 27, 1978. The previous day, Saturday, August 26, 1978, was my 18th birthday.
For my birthday that year, I had a celebration for my mother, giving thanks to her for what she endured and for giving me the opportunities I had.
It was one of the times I saw beyond the daily struggles and attained a perspective befitting my mother’s tireless effort devoted to our lives together.
As it turned out, my celebration on my 18th birthday for my mother would be the last time I would see her alive in our home.
My mother died on December 13, 1978, the week before Fall Semester final exams.
The tradition of using my birthday to celebrate the efforts of others, as well as the beauty and opportunity life presents, continued throughout my life.
After NXIVM was created, it became known as V-Week.
As much as Frank Parlato and other critics try to make V-Week a megalomaniacal party for me, it was a beloved, annual, end-of-summer celebration of all the people who made our lives possible and wonderful.
It celebrated not only my birthday, but also those of everyone whose birthdays fall within the period of the celebration.