Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
Mass of Christian Burial
Thursday, November 18, 2021
10:30 AM EST
St. Monica Church
4408 S. Westnedge Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
A lunch will follow his mass at the funeral home in the Life Story Center.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
John Ryan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and a wonderful friend to all who knew him. Active throughout his life, he made the most of each and every moment. He modeled a lifetime of showing compassion towards others and his wonderful collection of memories and natural sense of humor will remain dear to his special family and friends forevermore.
John’s story begins in the year 1940. The feel-good feeling of leaving the depression led to the release of major motion pictures and jazz music boomed with the likes of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. Thomas and Lezetta (Saum) Ryan welcomed home their youngest son, John, on December 29th in Monroe, Michigan. His birth brought much happiness into their loving home.
Growing up, John lived a typical childhood of the times. He and his older brothers found their fair share of mischief and antics, yet also held paper routes and attended Catholic school. His father worked as an insurance adjuster providing for the family, while his mother stayed home to raise the boys. She later went to work for Crowley’s taking orders and learned to be a fabulous cook. John’s childhood was filled with eating her homemade desserts contributing to his sweet tooth throughout his life. By the age of ten, the family relocated to Detroit where John attended St. Luke’s Elementary and then St. Cecilia High School where he enjoyed playing basketball. In high school, he was known for his unique sense of humor and was well-liked by his classmates. He met the love of his life, Ginna at a local house party in the fall when he was the tender age of fifteen. She was attending Immaculata, an all-girls Catholic School, and he was smitten right from the start. When Spring arrived, he asked her out to play tennis and the two of them were inseparable from that moment on! After he graduated with the Class of 1958, the two of them started to make plans for their futures. Ginna had a strong interest in pursuing a teaching degree from Mary Grove. At her sister’s graduation, John wanted to make their commitment stronger and decided he would propose. In his humorous style, he gave her a three carrot ring; a ring with literally three tiny orange carrots! Needless to say, it didn’t have the same effect on Ginna’s dad! He wasn’t too happy!
The happy couple did, however, join in marriage on August 22, 1964 at St. Bridget Church in Detroit. Without much resources, they traveled up north for a brief honeymoon. John started night school in Dearborn, and later they were invited to move to Kalamazoo with his aunt and uncle. Kalamazoo was the perfect setting to start their life together. John started taking accounting classes during the day at Western Michigan University and working at Sears in the evening. Ginna accepted a teaching position. A true romantic, John would prepare a picnic-basket and the two of them would head to South Haven to cook steaks on the beach and take in a sunset before heading back home. At the time of the Vietnam War, John was drafted with the United States Army and was stationed in Germany from May 24, 1966 – May 4, 1968. He was honored to represent the US at the Pilgrimage to Lourdes in France. The experience was memorable for the both of them as Ginna was able to go with him. Living in a small apartment, they took advantage of their weekends. Together they toured the beautiful French countryside in a used car they had purchased. They were true love birds and savored the memories of their time there for many years.
Upon their return to the US, John entered the world of work. His charming personality and natural way of connecting with others led to him selling cash registers and data machines, before becoming an insurance salesman. He started out at Burnham and Flower where every customer knew the reputation of his lovely bride as the sweetest kindergarten teacher in town! His strong work ethic led to him earning many incentive trips. One of the trips was to Rome and they were over the moon as devout Catholics to kiss the ring of Pope John Paul II! Later, John was invited to partner with two others in a new company, Kenrick Agency. He loved his work and enjoyed making lasting relationships with his coworkers and clients. He remained there until he later retired in his late sixties.
Not to be forgotten was his role as a father. He and Ginna were blessed with the arrival of their daughter, Sarah in 1973. John loved taking her trick-or-treating and never missed one of her basketball games or special events over her growing years. He modeled for her a wonderful example of how she should be treated by the special man in her life. He always doted on Ginna and shopped only at Jacobson’s each holiday season (usually waiting until Christmas Eve) to spoil her with the best gifts available in town. He would also share with her a passion for golf as well as accompanying her to the Barn Theater for the latest summer performances. He and Ginna shared a beautiful life and wanted nothing but the very best for their daughter, Sarah. They raised her with a strong foundation of faith and the importance of family. They also showed her that hard work deserves hard play as well!
Cheerful and always on the go, he and Ginna enjoyed sharing many special pastimes. In addition to his golf league at KofC, they played golf together and enjoyed heading to Myrtle Beach each October with other couples to play countless rounds of golf. Avid travelers, for over thirty years, they vacationed in Aruba where they enjoyed a little gambling, as well as relaxing at the beach or pool. They also loved to visit their good friends in Palm Springs, California. John loved the atmosphere and excitement in Vegas and traveled there three times a year to play in their slot tournaments. Win or lose, he loved to hang with his good buddies and break up the monotony of the long Michigan winters. When it came to sports, he was a huge Notre Dame fan and favored his hometown Detroit teams. Attending the annual Fantasy football draft at the K of C was a highlight of kicking off the fall season. He often would head there to play cards and have cold ones with friends. All who knew him enjoyed his sense of humor and his ability to put them at ease. Described as a wonderful storyteller, thoughtful, and caring, John will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by all who knew and loved him.
John “Wonderful” Ryan, age 80, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died Sunday, November 14, 2021, in Grand Rapids. Ryan was an Army veteran during the Vietnam War. He was an active member at St. Monica Church and the Knights of Columbus #1616. John was preceded in death by his siblings: Thomas Ryan, Rosemary Phelan, Patricia Kane and James Ryan. Surviving are his wife of 57 years, Ginna Ryan: daughter, Sarah Karsten, son in law, Matt Karsten; 3 grandchildren: twins, Jonathon and Alyssa, and David; and many nieces and nephews. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where a Rosary will be recited at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 10:30 AM at St. Monica Church. A lunch will follow at the funeral home in the Life Story Center. Cremation will take place and private burial at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit John’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association – Michigan Great Lakes Chapter.