In memory of
RYAN, ALAN R. Grand Rapids Alan R. Ryan, 88, was emblematic of a generation of leaders who dedicated their lives to giving for the betterment of others. Mr. Ryan, who will be remembered for his quiet and thoughtful generosity and passion for community service, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, June 13th, surrounded by his family. Ryan led a distinguished business career spanning forty years, including leadership roles with The Keebler Company and later as President and CEO of the Burry Division of the Quaker Oats Company, where he was also Corporate Vice President. During those years Mr. Ryan also served as President of the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturer's Association and was on the Board of Directors of United Jersey Bank and The United Way of Union, New Jersey. Mr. Ryan will be remembered for his love of the city of Grand Rapids, where he was born and raised and, ultimately, returned after his retirement. It was then that he began his second career as a tireless community advocate with a vision focused on higher education, healthcare services and the arts. Ryan served for more than a decade on the Aquinas College Board of Trustees, most recently as Chairman. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary's Health Services and The Grand Rapids Art Museum, was on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the Van Andel Institute. He was also a strategic business consultant to Chadalee Farms and served on its Board of Directors. Sister M. Aquinas Weber, a close friend and colleague, remembers Mr. Ryan as "... a gentle gentleman, a loyal friend and a great leader. He served and gave unselfishly of his time and expertise to improve the organizations where he served, profit or non-profit." Ryan's vision also focused on ensuring a strong future leadership base for Grand Rapids. He initiated several scholarship programs to benefit local youth, including The Ryan Scholarship, which uniquely joined local Catholic Secondary Schools, Aquinas College and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in a cooperative venture to mentor and educate the best and brightest of the city's deserving youth. As a young adult, Ryan was selected during WWII for Naval Officers Training and served his country proudly, stationed in Okinawa. Later, he graduated from Northwestern University and Harvard University's Graduate School of Business Advanced Management Program. In 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service by Aquinas College. Mr. Ryan was preceded in death by his first wife, Carolyn Hawk Ryan. Today he is survived by his loving wife, Margaret Cosmos Ryan and his three devoted children, Mary Conrad (Robert), Mark Ryan (Sharon), and Constance Thomson (Roger), Beth Cosmos. Ryan's grandchildren were perhaps even his greatest joy. He will be greatly missed by Alexis Conrad, Stephanie and Annie Ryan, and Carolyn and Jack Thomson, Christopher Cosmos, and Michael Lechner, who knew him as Poppy, and who he proudly viewed as early leaders of the next Greatest Generation. Visitation for Mr. Ryan will be held at O'Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel in Grand Rapids on Saturday, June 15, from 2-4 and 6-8 pm. Mass will be celebrated at 10 am, Monday, June 17, at Saint Andrew's Cathedral. Donations may be made to The Constance Ryan Seeley Foundation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
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