Earl Leroy Ryan was born May 14, 1928 in Welch, Oklahoma to Lewis Nelson Ryan and Maudie May (Swimm) Ryan. Earl joined his Lord and rejoined the love of his life on April 15, 2023, just short of his 95th birthday. He was the 11th child of 11 children. Shortly after Earl’s birth, the family moved to a farm, near the small town of Wann, Oklahoma. While attending school at Wann, he also served as a bus driver.
He told the story of one rainy day, when the roads were nearly impassable. He said the bus got stuck in the mud and despite his best efforts; he couldn’t get it to budge. He decided that his best option was to lighten the load, so he carried each student through the mud to the nearest area of high and almost dry ground. Luckily, a local farmer came along with his tractor and pulled the bus out of the mud. Earl drove to the high ground, had the students climb aboard, and off they went to school, probably arriving a little after the bell.
The Ryan family lived South of the Hadley family, on a typical Nowata County dirt road. Melvina Hadley, matriarch of the Hadley family, told her kids to stay away from the road, saying, “Those crazy Ryan boys will run over you.” Because he was so handsome, or maybe because it was the best way to avoid being run over, Dorothy Hadley started hitching rides with Earl. Either way, the two became lifelong friends and were married on May 11, 1950, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. A marriage that lasted for 67 years, until Dorothy went to see her Lord on October 1, 2017. From their union came five children, Earl Junior, Jerry, Daniel, Tommy and Glenda.
On August 7, 1952, Earl entered the US Army. After Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Earl received his Advanced Individual Training at Aberdeen, Maryland before returning to Fort Sill to work in Tactical Air Support.
After his time in the Army, Earl returned home, to his wife and young son Earl Junior and to the family farm to help his aging mother and father.
Earl worked various jobs, and in his free time he bought, restored and sold old cars. He bought and sold so many vehicles in one year that the tax commission told him he would have to get a dealer’s license, so the auto trading took a slower pace. Earl’s last and longest employment was with Stewart Stone. That job brought him and his family to Pawnee, in 1968. He worked at Stewart Stone for more than 45 years as a heavy equipment operator and Plant Superintendent.
Earl loved to tell funny stories and sing little ditties, a trait that he passed on to his children. In his last few months, he kept the hospice nurses entertained by singing little ditties and telling stories. When he sang to them, or told them a story, they often said, “I’ve never heard that before.” His response was, “I know, I just made it up.” Earl loved life and there were very few dull moments when he was around.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents, Lewis Nelson Ryan and Maudie Mae (Swimm) Ryan, his siblings Elmer Ryan, Willie Ryan, Buster Ryan, Jewel Ryan, Alfred Ryan, Floyd Ryan, Louise (Ryan) Lester, Bertha (Ryan) Looney, Cora (Ryan) Shields, Jack Ryan, his wife of 67 years, Dorothy (Hadley) Ryan, two sons, Daniel Ryan and Tommy Ryan, and three grandsons, Daniel Ryan, Jason McClure and Dewayne Ryan. He is survived by three of his children Earl Junior (JR) and wife Cheryl of Pawnee, Jerry and wife Peggy of Pawnee and Glenda (Ryan) and John McClure of Stillwater, 16 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.