Jack Ryan remembered for contributions to Geneva
John "Jack" Ryan had no shortage of support for Geneva.
Those who knew him said he was involved in every aspect of the community – the city, the chamber of commerce, the schools, fundraising events and civic organizations.
"He loved Geneva," said Jean Gaines, president of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
And, it seems, Geneva loved him, too.
"I don't think he had an enemy," Gaines said. "He could always laugh everything off."
Ryan, 78, died Thursday.
Although Ryan moved to St. Charles in the 1990s, he is known for his work in Geneva.
In Geneva, he owned and operated Ryan Automotive, served as an on-call firefighter and paramedic, and supported Geneva High School sports as a booster member. He also served the city as an alderman, served on the Delnor Foundation Board, was a past president of the St. Peter School Board and was president of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
"He was a huge supporter of the staff," Gaines said. "Just any project that came forward he was willing to step in."
Doug Warlick remembers Ryan as an ambassador for the Geneva Lions Club.
"He brought me into the club," the now club president said, explaining Ryan urged him to attend a meeting after the two met at McNally's about 10 years ago on St. Patrick's Day.
"Jack – he was that kind of incredible personality," Warlick said.
In addition to serving as club president, Ryan served on committees and – while on roller skates – donned the club's lion costume for the Swedish Days parade, member Bob Goodfellow said, calling him "spunky."
Ryan this year received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award, the highest honor given to Lions for their service. Goodfellow said very few Geneva Lions – about 10 – have received the prestigious award.
"He was the kind of person who, if you needed some help on a project, he would be the first to volunteer and help if he could," Goodfellow said. "He's going to be sorely missed."
Terry Emma, a Geneva Lions Club member, shared a table with Ryan during the club's Monday luncheons. She went to this week's meeting knowing it would be strange not to see him there, she said.
"He really helped the Geneva Lions Club get to where it is today with his dedication and hard work," Emma said.
She noted he didn't look for attention; he did what he did because he loved Geneva.
Gaines hopes younger generations will take note of the contributions their predecessors, such as Ryan, have made and realize what it takes to build a community, she said. She added they have big shoes to fill.