E. James “Jim” Ryan

May 27, 2018

E. James “Jim” Ryan
U.S. Veteran

Air Force

Korean War

E. James “Jim” Ryan  – in Woburn, May 27th, eighty six years of age.  Beloved husband of the late Phyllis (Brennock) Ryan.  Devoted father of Linda Ryan Nicklas, her  husband Richard of VA, Michael J. Ryan of NH, Sr. Janet Ryan, OSF,  of Chicago, and David J. Ryan, his wife Robin of Carrabbassett Valley, ME.  Dear brother of Viola Ball, her husband Frank of Melrose.  Cherished grandfather of Erin and Matthew Nicklas.  He also leaves his dear friend Sally Kidd who brought such joy and love to him these past several years. A Funeral will be held from the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Friday, June 1st, at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Barbara’s Church, 138 Cambridge Road, Woburn,  at 10. Burial will be held at a later date in Bourne National Cemetery. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to calling hours, Thursday evening,  3-7 p.m. Remembrances May be made in Jim’s memory to All Care Hospice Development Office 210 Market St., Lynn, MA 01901 or Su Casa Catholic Worker 5045 S Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60609.

E. James “Jim” Ryan, passed away peacefully at home, Sunday morning, May 27th , surrounded by his loving children. Jim was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 51 years, Phyllis B. Ryan. He was born in Boston, in 1931, to the late Winnifred (Johnson) and James Ryan of Dorchester and is survived by one sister, Viola Ball of Melrose. He was preceded in death by his sisters Collette Loftus and Virginia Kipp.

Jim spent the first seven years of his life, during the depression, with his mother and three siblings in Newfoundland, Canada, at his grandparent’s home which had no electricity, central heat or running water. His mother took care of his dad’s parents while his dad lived and worked as a fisherman off the Grand Banks in Boston.

Jim began working as an usher at the Strand theatre in Boston when he was 12 years old. He graduated from Cathedral High School, Boston, in 1949 and was awarded a full academic scholarship to Boston University but instead chose to continue working at the theatre and at Macy’s soda fountain counter as a “soda jerk.”

Always looking for adventure, Jim drove across the country at 18yrs old and had his car engine quit on him. He found a junk yard with a car similar to his, came back the next day at 8am, borrowed tools, removed his engine and the replacement engine, installed the new one in his car and drove out of the junk yard at closing time. The owner told him he didn’t have one mechanic that could do what he did and offered him a job if he ever wanted one. Jim smiled, thanked him and drove off.

In 1952 he enlisted in the US Air Force and entered pilot training school. He was deployed to Okinawa and Hong Kong and spent time at the Air Force base in Tucson, AZ.  In his four years of service he earned the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.  He received an honorable service discharge in February 1956 as an Airman Second class.

He returned to Boston, attended 2 years of school at Boston University but found it unfulfilling, left, and worked at Atlantic Gelatin in Woburn as a lab tech/chemist and later at EG&G. At EG&G he and a team of colleagues invented top secret, high speed film used to photograph nuclear explosion tests. They developed it and reviewed the images before military defense leaders and even the president saw it!

Jim had his eye on the girl next door and asked her out three times before she accepted. On their first date, Phyllis M. Brennock and Jim took a boat ride to a Boston Harbor Island for a cookout.  Hours later when leaving, they found the boat stuck in the tide. When they finally started home, hours later, the boat ran out of gas!  Phyllis arrived back to her Dorchester home at five in the morning and insisted that she be dropped at the end of her street so as not to be seen by anyone! They were married the following year on May 21, 1960. 

Jim spent much of his first 20 years of marriage as a broker selling insurance for Sun Life of Canada and later Prudential. He became interested in home-heating systems and  worked installing and troubleshooting state of the art boilers up and down the east coast.  After one of Jim’s early presentations on a new boiler to an auditorium full of plumbers, his boss stated “They think you have been in this business for 30 years.” It had only been a couple of months!

Before retiring, Jim created his dream job and went into business for himself remodeling kitchens and bathrooms in the Middlesex area. At one point he and a close friend took classes and got real estate licenses. When he finally retired, he didn’t- he just didn’t earn a salary anymore. He continued to work, mostly on his children’s home projects! 

He took many working trips to each of his children’s homes in California, Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, and New Hampshire, where he helped to build, renovate or repair each of their homes. He rebuilt cars, remodeled kitchens, finished basements, replaced heating systems and actually built a home with his son, Dave, in Maine at age 70. No project was beyond him and no amount of time too great for him to offer his services.

Jim also was a fantastic babysitter and volunteered to watch his two grade-school aged grandchildren, make their lunches and cook suppers while his wife Phyllis and two daughters took a 12-day trip to Greece. Two years later he graciously agreed to supervise the children again when the ladies took a 10-day trip to Israel.   He was in his 70s at the time!

Jim and Phyllis spent the bulk of their precious years of retirement at their beloved ‘camp’ on Bradley Lake in New Hampshire. Summers were spent with their children and grandchildren swimming, hiking, canoeing, fishing and mostly identifying more improvement projects to tackle!  Jim made many friends around the lake and was often found helping neighbors and friends-or at least telling them stories! Jim was skilled at everything and freely shared his talents, time and stories with everyone he met.

Jim was the beloved husband of the late Phyllis B. Ryan and devoted father of Linda M. Ryan-Nicklas and her husband Rick Nicklas of Vienna, VA, Michael J. Ryan of Portsmouth, NH, Sr. Janet M. Ryan, OSF, of Chicago, IL and David J. Ryan and his wife Robin of Carrabasset Valley, ME. He was the loving grandpa to Erin and Matthew Nicklas. Jim is the dear brother of Viola Ball of Melrose, the late Collette Loftus of Milton and the late Virginia Kipp of Marshfield.

A Funeral will be held from the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn, on Friday, June 1st at 9:00 a.m., followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Barbara’s Church, 138 Cambridge Road, Woburn, at 10 a.m. Calling hours will be held on Thursday, May 31st from 3-7 p.m. at the Funeral Home. Burial will be private at Massachusetts National
Cemetery in Bourne.  Remembrances may be made in Jim’s honor to Su Casa Catholic Worker, 5045 S. Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60609, All-Care Hospice, 210 Market ST, Lynn, MA 01901.

 

A Funeral will be held from the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Friday, June 1st, at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Barbara’s Church, 138 Cambridge Road, Woburn,  at 10. Burial will be held at a later date in Bourne National Cemetery. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to calling hours, Thursday evening,  3-7 p.m. Remembrances May be made in Jim’s memory to All Care Hospice Development Office 210 Market St., Lynn, MA 01901 or Su Casa Catholic Worker 5045 S Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60609.

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  1. Janet , Linda Michael, David and families,
    Our sincerest sympathy to all of you on your Dad’s passing. We know you will all miss him dearly. He had a wonderful life but is surely delighted to be reunited with your Mom now. We are thankful to have made friends with both of them; they were so hospitable when we visited and made us feel so welcome. We treasure the memories we made with them and with all of you. Thinking of you especially in the days ahead.
    Tom & Ellie Power

  2. Sister Ann Martinek

    Janet and family,
    You are in my thoughts and prayers during this sad time of saying goodbye to your great dad. We did so enjoy knowing and spending time with him.

  3. Sister Martinelle Bonnell, O

    Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you as you mourn the loss of a great man—your father and grandfather!

  4. Sr. Ida Green, OSF

    My deepest sympathy to the family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Sr. Gael Gensler

    Peace is my prayer for all you as you give thanks for the gift of your Father.

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