Nov 4th 1932 - Jun 30th 2012
There were many things to love and admire about Joe Ryan. Foremost was his love for family, and his love for travel. Intelligent and meticulous, he was a gentleman who was sincerely interested in the lives of those around him, always giving his undivided attention. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
The economy continued to deteriorate in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression. Unemployment increased to over 24 percent, with 13 million out of work. Many struggled to simply keep their families fed and a roof over their heads. For Joseph T. and Ellen (Burke) Ryan, the year offered hope and promise as they celebrated the birth of their son, Joseph G. Ryan on November 4, 1932.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Joe grew up on Hamlin Avenue on the city's northwest side with his seven siblings, Thomas, Mary, Norma Jean, Dolores, Patricia, Donna, and George. His mother remained at home as a homemaker while his father supported the family with his trucking company, J.T. Ryan Cartage Company.
As a young boy, Joe loved spending time with family at their summer cottages in Michigan on Saddle Lake. They'd leave on Memorial Day, and wouldn't head back home until Labor Day when it was time to begin the new school year. Summers were always filled with adventure and memorable times. Sadly, when Joe was nine, life for the Ryan family changed completely when his mother passed away. With his father hard at work, Joe and his siblings were well cared for by his Uncle George and Aunt Sadie as well as many other family members. He looked up to and admired his Uncle George, and relished any time they spent together. Throughout Joe's life he often recalled his Uncle George and how truly special he was to him.
Joe attended the area schools in Chicago, and loved spending time with the horse his father bought him. He named his beloved horse Dugan, and kept it at a nearby stable. When old enough, Joe worked at a local grocery and drugstore to earn board money for his horse. Joe was 17 at the time, and continued on with his high school education in Michigan when he began living there with good family friends, the Jares'.
Joe left his schooling behind and on August 8, 1950 he joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He was then faced with the tragedy of his father's passing. He eventually received his GED and became certified as a rate clerk. He spent the next seven months on the aircraft carrier, Siboney before being stationed in Olathe, Kansas until his discharge in 1953. He always maintained that his time in the Navy was one of the best times of his life. In fact, Joe traveled back to his base many times over the years.
Upon returning home, Joe held several jobs, but a visit to his sister Mary's home soon changed the course of Joe's life. There he met a young woman named Patricia McCarthy who captured his heart while she babysat his sister's children. Quite smitten, the feeling was mutual and they soon began dating. They were happily married on May 7, 1955 at St. Thomas Moore Church in Chicago and enjoyed a fine reception at the Cog Hill Country Club. Like the large, close knit family Joe was accustomed to, he and Patricia welcomed six children of their own into their lives with the births of Michael, Stephen, Mark, Patrick, Linda, and Kathleen.
In 1966, Joe and his two partners, Bill Rappley and Mike Bahaveolis, began their own trucking company, B Brothers Cartage. Joe and his family moved to Odell, Illinois so he could work out of the Pontiac Interlake plant, of which the trucking company hauled all of Interlake's steel.
After 18 years, Joe retired in 1984. The following May in 1985, he fulfilled one of his longtime dreams by opening a restaurant on the Kankakee river, Ryan's Pier. After a few years he decided to just manage the office end of the business while his wife, Patricia handled the everyday operations.
Over the years Joe continued to speak fondly of his favorite, Uncle George. He shared about the many kind things he did for Joe and his siblings, and how much his influence had on his life. Joe honored his uncle's memory, a Veteran of World War I, by traveling to Kansas City to the Liberty WWI Memorial where he had one of the bricks engraved in his uncle’s honor. Whether with his family or an excursion or two on his own, Joe truly enjoyed travel. Besides going to Kansas City where he was once stationed, he also spent enjoyable times traveling the Santa Fe trail. Throughout the years he took many trips with his father-in-law to California, and went on a few cruises.
Joe also vacationed with his sisters and brothers-in-law, soaking up the Arizona sun. He spent time in Washington and California, and traveled with his wife to Vienna, Costa Rica, Mexico and Vancouver. One of their more memorable times traveling included an 18 day vacation seeing the sights in Cancun, Bermuda, and onto the east coast to New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont. They loved visiting their sons in Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C, and time in Minnesota and Colorado visiting their sons and daughter in college.
For several years, Joe rented a cottage for two weeks every summer. His family would take turns staying for a few days at a time, and Joe loved it. It was something he did as a kid which created everlasting memories, and he wanted to carry on the tradition and share it with his own. One of the happiest days included the day he was choosing a boat of his own. He picked up a small speed boat for his kids to learn how to water-ski, and named it Gee Bee. He loved days spent at Lake Geneva where he could take-in his love for water sports. The last trip Joe took was with his sons to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to his son’s cabin.
To Joe, there was nothing like spending time with family. In his later years he enjoyed babysitting his younger grandkids. He also loved animals, especially dogs and horses, and later became a cat lover, too. His favorite dog, Stumps was very special to Joe. They had a special bond, and he didn't like being away from Joe for long. One time when Joe returned home from an extended vacation, Stumps was truly angry with him and literally "yelled" at him for the first five minutes he was home. Stumps then went on to ignore Joe for the next three days!
When it came to sports, Joe was better in some than others. He even won the “worst golfer award” at a golf outing his father-in-law had organized with the Chicago police department. He was a great pool player and liked playing chess. Partial to the Chicago Bears, he was in attendance when the White Sox won the world series and also went to the first home game played at Notre Dame for many years. He liked the Indy 500 and attended the time trials each year.
When Joe was 70 he obtained his motorcycle license to ride his 1957 Cushman Scooter his son Steve gave him. He also had his own plane for a number of years and took many short trips with friends and family. Always a cautious pilot, he took these skills quite seriously. Joe he absolutely loved old movies and created his own movie library with over 450 to his collection. He liked cooking and could easily spend the whole weekend preparing and cooking some of his specialties which included Chili, Oxtail Soup and Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Meatballs.
Joe was very intelligent. He could calculate tabulations in his head within seconds, and even mastered the rubics cube. He especially loved old TV programs, and reading the newspaper. His favorite poem was Face on the Barroom Floor. A very difficult poem to memorize, his father made him learn it as a child and he recited it word for word on many Christmases.
Joe was extremely particular about his appearance and had to shower and shave before being seen in public. In everything Joe did, he was quite meticulous. That went for his office, too. He always knew if someone had used his favorite pen. Well read in many subjects, he had the unique ability to retain many dates and facts about events.
At the age of 79, Joseph E. Ryan, Aroma Park, Illinois, passed away on Saturday, June 30, 2012 in the comfort of his home. He is survived by his children, Michael, Stephen, Mark, Patrick, Linda, and Kathleen; grandchildren, Stephen and Katie Ryan, Timothy and Sean Fogarty, James and Kyra Slavin, and Cy Ryan. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday, August 6, 2012, 11:00 AM at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kankakee with Father Don Wehnert officiating. A gathering for family and friends will follow at Ryan’s Pier following the Mass. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 428 South Indiana Avenue, Kankakee, IL. 60901. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory and photo of Joe and to sign his online guest book.