|Ann Patricia Ryan|
Ann Patricia Ryan (Phelan), age 94, died in the early morning hours of July 24, 2020 shortly after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
Ann was born May 16, 1926 to the late John and Margaret Phelan in Lynn, Massachusetts. An only child, she was surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles who adored her. One in particular, Agnes Cashman, became a second mother to her and another grandparent to her children. In that same month, she happened to meet a baby boy who would 23 years later become her husband.
Ann attended St. Mary’s High School for Girls and graduated in the class of 1943. By that time, the extraordinary memory which would stay with her for the rest of her life was already very apparent. She was an excellent student and went on to get a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics in 1947 from Framingham State Teachers College, and then to teach school right out of college.
During Ann’s college years, the world was in the midst of World War II. Ann worked for a time in a Veterans Hospital where wounded soldiers and malnourished prisoners of war were brought. For those of us who knew her later years, we can only imagine how much those soldiers must have enjoyed her incredible sense of humor and sharp wit. She also did her part by working for a short time in the summer of 1945 in a factory supporting the war efforts.
Ann married Richard T. Ryan, that boy she met the month she was born, on June 25, 1949 at St. Mary’s in Lynn, Massachusetts. At the time, female schoolteachers were not allowed to be married and Ann was asked to resign. Displaying another hallmark of her personality, she stubbornly refused. Although she was fired, she was always proud of the fact that she had refused to resign “for no reason.” After decades of substitute teaching, she went back to work as fulltime teacher at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Annapolis, Maryland during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the decades that followed her marriage, Ann was doing more than substitute teaching, she was establishing herself as the “Matriarch” of the Ryan Family. She was raising seven children, attending school events, athletic events, and everything else her children were interested in doing. Often ahead of her time, she advocated for allowing girls to play sports, she pushed her children to succeed academically and otherwise, and ensured that her children were driven to and from their activities. By the 1990s, Ann was a grandmother several times over, then a great grandmother. In the past two (2) years, she added the role of Great-Great Grandmother to her many titles.
In 1995, following the death of her husband, Ann began a new stage of her life. An avid crafter, she joined a senior center craft making group in Montgomery County, Maryland. Within months, she was frustrated that the group seemed to “making crafts without any purpose.” She advocated for and ultimately succeeded in changing the group’s mission so that they were making the crafts to give to children who were in long term care at Children’s Inn at the National Institutes for Health.
Ann continued to grow and develop as a person for her entire life. At age 60, she took a computer course at Montgomery College and used her computer skills throughout the balance of her life. She continuously made new friends, sought new books to read, and new things to learn. In the last year of her life, she had expanded her computer use to video calling and recently purchased her first iPad, which she used daily.
Of the many things her grandchildren would often speak about concerning ‘Grandma Ryan’ was the fact that she was, to the very end, a unique character. Bold. Plain spoken. Direct. Witty. Funny. Great conversationalist. Forward thinking And always ready to enjoy good food, good company, and whatever else life had to offer. She was the complete opposite of a wall flower.
Ann was very happy to brag to friends about how much attention and support she received from her children Although she continued to live in her own place up until shortly before her death, Ann’s life was particularly enriched by her daughter Maura and Maura’s wife Marybeth, who not only made Ann a part of their family, traveling with her and spending a great deal of time with her, but who took the lead of caring for her when she needed care – especially in the last six weeks of her life.
In addition to her parents, her aunt Agnes and her husband, Richard, she is pre-deceased by her oldest child Colleen Ryan, and her oldest grandchild, Thomas (TJ) Laird, Jr. She is survived by her children: Thomas Ryan (Linda) of Freehold, New Jersey; Maura Ryan (Marybeth Daucher) of Rockville, Maryland; Sheila Thomas of Columbia, South Carolina; Kevin Ryan (Karen) of Land-O-Lakes, Florida; Norine Ryan (Teresa Laurenzo) of Clifton Park, New York; and John Ryan of Annapolis, Maryland. She is also survived by 13 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.
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