In Memoriam ~ Robert Earl Ryan ’63

Robert Earl Ryan ’63

Robert Earl Ryan, age 75, died peacefully December 21 of a degenerative disease that he endeavored to exercise his way out of until the very end. Bob is survived by his three children, Colleen (Robert Oberlies), Rob, and Patricia (Frank Gravino); six grandchildren, Nora, William, Kendall, John, Frankie and Rocco; his sister Joan Johnson, his brother John and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Born in St. Paul to John and Frances (Rowan), his childhood was a constant succession of neighborhood baseball, football and hockey games interspersed with helpings of his mother’s unbeatable coleslaw and his altar boy duties. He graduated from his beloved St. John’s Prep and St. John’s University and served in the Marine Corp for 2 years before meeting his wife Mary in Chicago and moving with his employer to Milwaukee, Duluth, Peoria and Golden Valley; finally retiring to Titusville, Florida and renaming himself “Florida Bob.”

A consummate athlete, Bob had a deep knowledge of the technical aspects of almost any game and was an early supporter of female athletics. He was a leading scorer for his college basketball team and joked that if the 3-point line had been invented earlier he would have been in the NBA. Instead, the sportswriter Mike Augustin recounted the star senior guard celebrating the “sweetness of his swan song victory against St. Thomas as he sat almost totally unclad in the dressing room puffing on a cigar after sparking an electric Johnny counter-surge in the second half.” He later took up tennis and won a silver medal at the Senior Olympics.

Bob was a man of unwavering Catholic faith who until the end of his life volunteered in nursing homes, prison ministries and Meals on Wheels. In retirement he confidently acquired passable Spanish and started a Spanish club at his local library to get more practice. Bob was a skilled card player, a non-threatening fisherman, and an ebullient, tolerant parent who persisted in believing that his average kids were exceptional (except for that time one of them made a basket for the wrong team). He loved to extoll the pleasures of fresh air, the song “Morning is Broken” and chocolate chip cookies. He’d want to remind you to “keep your eye on the ball.” His sociable presence and dry, mild humor will be missed.

On June 19, 2021, a 10am funeral mass will be held in Minneapolis followed by an outdoor celebration of his life at his daughter’s home. Memorials to the Titusville YMCA of Central Florida.